Fluorescent amphiphilic polymers were produced by grafting different types and levels of hydrophobic pendant groups with intrinsic fluorescent properties (fluorenylmethoxy carbonyl (Fmoc), dimethylamino‐1‐naphthalenesulfonyl (Dansyl), and naphthalene (Naphth) to a water soluble homopolymer backbone, polyallylamine (PAA). Non‐fluorescent hydrophobic pendant group (cholesteryl moieties) were also grafted onto PAA. The polymers were characterized with elemental analysis, NMR and FTIR spectroscopy. All polymers formed self‐assemblies by probe sonication in water with sizes ranging from 120 to 199 nm and TEM images showed the presence of spherical particles. The critical aggregation concentration (CAC) varied from 0.093 to 1.5 mg ml−1 depending on the type of hydrophobic pendant groups. The Cholesteryl and Dansyl polymers showed the presence of one CAC while the Fmoc and Naphth grafted polymers revealed the presence of two CACs. The first CAC observed was possibly due to intermolecular aggregation while the second CAC at the higher polymer concentration was the result of excimer formation revealed by their fluorescent spectra. We reasoned that Naphth and Fmoc aromatic pendant groups possess a flat stereochemistry, thus allowing π–π stacking at higher concentrations. The presence of the N‐dimethylamino group in the Dansyl moiety gives rise to a 3D structure, thus hindering any stacking. The understanding of the supramolecular assemblies formed by these fluorescent amphiphilic polymers will aid in the engineering of advanced materials with superior functionality for biomedical applications.
- graft polymer
- fluorescent amphiphilic polymer
- self assembly
- critical aggregation concentration