Tandem synthesis of core-shell brush copolymers and their transformation to peripherally cross-linked and hollowed nanostructures.
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Core-shell brush copolymers were prepared on the basis of a tandem synthetic strategy and used as single molecular templates for the preparation of polymeric nanomaterials. An alkoxyamine-functionalized norbornene monomer was prepared and then polymerized by ring-opening metathesis polymerization. The well-defined polymer (Mn = 122 kDa, Mw/Mn = 1.13) contained one alkoxyamine functionality per repeat unit and was then used as a polyfunctional macroinitiator for sequential nitroxide-mediated radical polymerizations of isoprene and tert-butyl acrylate. The resulting well-defined brush copolymer (Mn = 1410 kDa, Mw/Mn = 1.23) was transformed to an amphiphilic core-shell brush copolymer comprising poly(isoprene)-b-poly(acrylic acid) grafts by hydrolysis. Subsequent cross-linking of the poly(acrylic acid) block segments afforded peripherally cross-linked brush copolymer nanostructures, which served, finally, as templates for hollowed nanoscale frameworks by ozonolysis of the poly(isoprene)-based cores. Each transformation led to dramatic changes in the nanoscale composition and structure which were detected by combinations of spectroscopic measurements, atomic force microscopy imaging in the solid state, and/or dynamic light-scattering characterization in aqueous solution.