A direct probe of the interplay between bilayer morphology and surface reactivity in polymersomes. Academic Article uri icon


  • Bilayer vesicles self-assembled from amphiphilic poly(ethylene oxide)-b-polybutadiene (PEO-b-PBd) copolymers are cell-like structures whose high stability and tunable membrane properties make them ideal for use as potential drug carriers and cell mimicry templates. Understanding how the surface interactions (reaction, binding, etc.) are governed by the bilayer structure is critical to enable construction of polymersomes with tailored colloidal behavior. Here, we adapt a previously established chemical labeling method by incorporating coumarin functionalized copolymer into the vesicular structure. This allows us to probe the effect of poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) brush and surface architecture on the bimolecular quenching reaction occurring at the polymersome surface. Using these measurements, we have tracked quenching in free solution, on bare particles, and on two types of vesicle surfaces: one where the functionalized copolymer groups are longer than the surrounding unfunctionalized copolymer, and one where both functionalized and unfunctionalized groups are the same length. We find that quenching in the presence of the PEG brush proceeds at less than half the free solution rate in both vesicle architectures. However, the quenching rate is further reduced when the functionalized and unfunctionalized groups are the same length. The surface reaction appears to be dominated by quencher diffusion, a conclusion supported by conductivity measurements and ion partition studies indicating that these effects arise as a consequence of retarded ion mobility in the presence of the PEG brush rather than ion exclusion effects. These studies reveal the interplay between the vesicle bilayer architecture (copolymer composition, chain length, local concentration surrounding the active site) and the surface reaction rate, thereby providing useful insights that can help guide the design of polymersomes with desired functional properties.

published proceedings

  • Langmuir

author list (cited authors)

  • Chang, Y., Silas, J. A., & Ugaz, V. M.

citation count

  • 6

complete list of authors

  • Chang, Ya-Wen||Silas, James A||Ugaz, Victor M

publication date

  • July 2010