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Raquel Lopez Rios De Castro: Topology-Controlled Self-Assembly of Amphiphilic Block Copolymers

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Contemporary synthetic chemistry approaches can be used to yield a range of distinct polymer topologies with precise control.

The topology of a polymer strongly influences its self-assembly into complex nanostructures however a clear mechanistic understanding of the relationship between polymer topology and self-assembly has not yet been developed. In this work, we use atomistic molecular dynamics simulations to provide a nanoscale picture of the self-assembly of three poly(ethylene oxide)-poly(methyl acrylate) block copolymers with different topologies into micelles.

We find that the topology affects the ability of the micelle to form a compact hydrophobic core, which directly affects its stability. Also, we apply unsupervised machine learning techniques to show that the topology of a polymer affects its ability to take a conformation in response to the local environment within the micelles. This work provides foundations for the rational design of polymer nanostructures based on their underlying topology.

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