Amphiphilic dendrimers and homopolymers: Self-assembling systems by controlling the structure at the molecular level
The process of self-assembly provides unique opportunities for designing novel materials at the nano-scale. The development of such processes involves fine-tuning of chemical structures and effective use of the non-covalent forces that controls such molecules. This thesis discusses a new design of an amphiphilic species that can undergo self-assembly, directed by solvophobic/solvophilic interactions. The building block of the system contains a polar and an apolar unit, embedded within the same monomer. Amphiphilic dendrimers and homopolymers were built on this basic structure. The self-assembly of these macromolecules were studied in solvents of widely different polarities. The biphenyl based dendrimers showed aggregation behavior in the solvents, which was hitherto unknown for those. Along with their host-guest properties in solution, the preferential location of the amphiphilic functionalities were probed, in order to fundamentally understand the dendritic systems. The same design principle, applied to homopolymers also led to the formation of micelle-like and inverted micelle-like assemblies. The detailed characterization of such systems is discussed along with their behavior in a heterogeneous solvent mixture. The polymeric systems hold promise in applications such as separation nanotechnology and protein sensing.