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Block Ionomer Complexes

Studies on block ionomer complexes focus on discovering novel principles of polymer self assembly and ways controlling structure and morphology. Potential applications of these materials in various nanotechnologies generate our  interest in them. For, example vesicles from block ionomer complexes described below can be used in drug delivery (
J Am Chem Soc 120:9941-9942, 1998).



Unique self-assembly behavior was discovered with the block ionomer complexes (BIC) formed between poly(ethylene oxide)-b-polymethacrylate anions and cetylpyridinium cations. Despite neutralization of the charges of the polyion and surfactant the BIC are soluble and stable. This behavior is unprecedented for regular polyelectrolyte-surfactant complexes that are usually water-insoluble. The changes in morphology occur in these systems as a result of variation of composition of the complex. When an excess of surfactant is added to the stoichiometric BIC, the positively charged particles of a special type are formed, which are remarkably monodisperse. These particles are vesicles composed of lamellae from polyanion-bound surfactant (1:1); excess of surfactant cations and ethylene oxide chains "grafted" to the lamella surface. Various hydrophilic compounds can be entrapped in the internal aqueous volume of such vesicles. Overall, these systems represent a new class of lyophilic colloids that exhibit combined properties of amphiphilic block copolymers and polyelectrolyte complexes.