Multicompartment micelles from silicone-based triphilic block copolymers
An amphiphilic linear ternary block copolymer was synthesised in three consecutive steps via reversible addition-fragmentation chain transfer polymerisation. Oligo(ethylene glycol) monomethyl ether acrylate was engaged as a hydrophilic building block, while benzyl acrylate and 3-tris(trimethylsiloxy)silyl propyl acrylate served as hydrophobic building blocks. The resulting "triphilic" copolymer consists thus of a hydrophilic (A) and two mutually incompatible "soft" hydrophobic blocks, namely, a lipophilic (B) and a silicone-based (C) block, with all blocks having glass transition temperatures well below 0 °C. The triphilic copolymer self-assembles into spherical multicompartment micellar aggregates in aqueous solution, where the two hydrophobic blocks undergo local phase separation into various ultrastructures as evidenced by cryogenic transmission electron microscopy. Thus, a silicone-based polymer block can replace the hitherto typically employed fluorocarbon-based hydrophobic blocks in triphilic block copolymers for inducing multicompartmentalisation.