Polymer self-assemblies : microfluidic production and nucleobase-functionalities

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


In the work herein presented, the first project systematically evaluates the use of a simple and cost-effective staggered herringbone pattern-based micromixer (SHP-MM) for forming self-assemblies of block copolymers, focusing on parameters such as flow speeds, aqueous to-organic phase ratios, and aqueous phase variations. Results highlighted the influence of aqueous-to-organic phase ratios on the formation of different self-assemblies, with water rich mixtures favouring consistent particle size and homogeneity, outperforming classic solvent exchange methods. Additionally, by changing the aqueous phase to sucrose solution, or biologically relevant lysogeny broth, micrometre-sized polymersomes were successfully produced, thus broadening the scope of capabilities of SHP-micromixers.The second project focuses on the development of a library of amphiphilic deblock copolymers with varying degrees of functionalisation of nucleobase moieties, namely adenine, thymine or diaminotriazine, in the hydrophobic block, mimicking nucleic acid nucleobase pairing and its melting properties when subject to mechanical stress or temperature. Stimuli responsiveness was investigated by the release behaviour of an encapsulated hydrophilic dye probe. Demonstrated reversible force responsiveness included variable release rates under mechanical stress, whereas temperature responsiveness was evident, with release rates plateauing over time. In both cases, an enhanced probe release was correlated with higher nucleobase content, which increased internal polarity to promote cargo release. Additionally, micrometre-sized nucleobase-functionalised polymersomes enabled laccase-encapsulating microreactor formulations to show varied catalytic activity based on membrane permeability influenced by nucleobase content.
Date of Award11 Apr 2024
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SponsorsUniversity of Strathclyde
SupervisorPeter Cormack (Supervisor) & Karen Faulds (Supervisor)

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