Polymer Self-Assembly

Self-assembled amphiphilic block copolymers have found widespread application in nanomedicine as potential vehicles for therapeutic and diagnostic agents. Amphiphilic block copolymers, like surfactants, are capable of self-assembling into a continuum of morphologies including spherical micelles, worm-like micelles, and vesicles. The resultant morphology depends on the packing of the block copolymer chains. Using controlled polymerization techniques, we synthesize stimuli-responsive block copolymers to investigate the effects of molecular weight, block length, polymer composition, chain architecture, and external stimuli on the resulting self-assembled morphology in solution.

Representative Publications

  • Smith, A. E.; Xu, X.; Savin, D. A. McCormick, C. L. “Reversible AuNP Cross-linking of Nanostructures Derived from Doubly-Responsive Block Copolymers” Polymer Chemistry (2010), 1(5), 628-630.


  • Smith, A. E.; Xu, X.; Kirkland-York, S. E.; Savin, D. A.; McCormick, C. L. “‘Schizophrenic’ Self-Assembly of Block Copolymer Synthesized via Aqueous RAFT Polymerization: From Micelles to Vesicles” Macromolecules (2010), 43(3), 1210-1217.


  • Smith, A. E.; Xu, X.; Abell, T. U.; Kirkland, S. E.; Hensarling, R. M.; McCormick, Charles L. “Tuning Nanostructure Morphology and Gold Nanoparticle ‘Locking’ of Multi-Responsive Amphiphilic Diblock Copolymers” Macromolecules (2009), 42(8), 2958–2964.