Exploiting nucleobase-containing materials: from monomers to complex morphologies using RAFT dispersion polymerization

The synthesis of nucleobase-containing polymers was successfully performed by RAFT dispersion polymerization in both chloroform and 1,4-dioxane and self-assembly was induced by the polymerizations. A combination of scattering and microscopy techniques were used to characterize the morphologies. It is found that the morphologies of self-assembled nucleobase-containing polymers are solvent dependent. By varying the DP of the core-forming block, only spherical micelles with internal structures were obtained in chloroform when using only adenine-containing methacrylate or a mixture of adenine-containing methacrylate and thymine-containing methacrylate as monomers. However, higher order structures and morphology transitions were observed in 1,4-dioxane. A sphere-rod-lamella-twisted bilayer transition was observed in this study. Moreover, the kinetics of the dispersion polymerizations were studied in both solvents, suggesting a different formation mechanism in these systems.