We investigated the formation of various micelle shapes of lipid-like amphiphilic AB2 miktoarm star copolymers in a solution, by performing dissipative particle dynamics simulations. AB2 miktoarm star copolymer molecules are modeled with coarse-grained structures that consist of a relatively hydrophilic head (A) group with a single arm and a hydrophobic tail (B) group with double arms. A decrease in the hydrophilicity of the head group leads to a reduction of the polymer-solvent contact area, causing cluster structure changes from spherical micelles to vesicles. Consequently, a spherical exterior with multi-lamellar or cylindrical phase interior structures forms under poor solvent conditions without the introduction of spherical hard-wall containers. Furthermore we observed that, for small head group lengths, vesicles were formed in much wider range of solvent-head interaction strength than for long head groups, indicating that molecules with short head group offer a superior vesicle forming property. A phase diagram, the structure and kinetics of the cluster formation, a density profile, and a detailed shape analysis are presented to discuss the molecular characteristics of potential candidates for drug carriers that require superior and versatile vesicle forming properties. We also show that, under certain solvent-hydrophilic head group interaction conditions, initially formed cylindrical micelles transform to bilayer fragments through redistribution of copolymers within the cluster.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the national research foundation (NRF) grant funded by the Korea government (2010-220-C00017, 2010-0016487, and 2010-0017172). M.H. thanks the fellowship of the BK 21 program from MOEHRD.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physics and Astronomy(all)
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry