Cross-Linking Induced Self-Organization of Polymers into Degradable Assemblies
journal contributionposted on 2017-04-07, 00:00 authored by Conghui Yuan, Bihong Hong, Ying Chang, Jie Mao, Yang Li, Yiting Xu, Birong Zeng, Weiang Luo, Jean-François Gérard, Lizong Dai
Covalently stabilized polymer assemblies are normally fabricated from the self-assembly of polymer chains followed by a cross-linking reaction. In this report, we show that a cross-linking-induced self-assembly approach, in which boronate cross-linking sites are formed by the condensation reaction between boronic and catechol groups, can organize polymer networks into uniform assemblies. Self-assembly of these boronate cross-linked polymer networks adopts two different driving forces in water and methanol solutions. Hydrophobic aggregation of polymer networks in water solution affords spherical assemblies, while B–N dative bond formed between boronate and imine functionalities in methanol solution organizes the polymer networks into bundle-like assemblies. We not only demonstrate the intrinsic stimuli-responsive degradability of these cross-linked assemblies but also show that their degradation can cause a controllable release of guest molecules. Moreover, bundle-like assemblies with rough surface and exposed boronate functionalities exhibit dramatically higher cell penetration capability than the spherical assemblies with smooth surface and embedded boronate functionalities.