Fabricating future materials by self-assembly of nano-building blocks programmed to generate specific lattices is among the most challenging goals of nanotechnology and has led to the recent concept of patchy particles. We report here a simple strategy to fabricate polystyrene nanoparticles with several silica patches based on the solvent-induced self-assembly of silica/polystyrene monopods. The latter are obtained with morphological yields as high as 99% by seed-growth emulsion polymerization of styrene in the presence of 100 nm silica seeds previously modified with an optimal surface density of methacryloxymethyl groups. In addition, we fabricate "magnetic" silica seeds by silica encapsulation of preformed maghemite supraparticles. The polystyrene pod, i.e., surface nodule, serves as a sticky point when the monopods are incubated in a bad/good solvent mixture for polystyrene, e.g., ethanol/tetrahydrofuran mixtures. After self-assembly, mixtures of particles with two, three, four silica or magnetic silica patches are mainly obtained. The influence of experimental parameters such as the ethanol/tetrahydrofuran volume ratio, monopod concentration and incubation time is studied. Further developments would consist of obtaining pure batches by centrifugal sorting and optimizing the relative position of the patches in conventional repulsion figures.
Towards Polymeric Nanoparticles with Multiple Magnetic Patches
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