Unraveling the Single-Nanometer Thickness of Shells of Vesicle-Templated Polymer Nanocapsules
The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters
Vesicle-templated nanocapsules have emerged as a viable platform for diverse applications. Shell thickness is a critical structural parameter of nanocapsules, where the shell plays a crucial role providing mechanical stability and control of permeability. Here we used small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) to determine the thickness of freestanding and surfactant-stabilized nanocapsules. Despite being at the edge of detectability, we were able to show the polymer shell thickness to be typically 1.0 ± 0.1 nm, which places vesicle-templated nanocapsules among the thinnest materials ever created. The extreme thinness of the shells has implications for several areas: masstransport through nanopores is relatively unimpeded; pore-forming molecules are not limited to those spanning the entire bilayer; the internal volume of the capsules is maximized; and insight has been gained on how polymerization occurs in the confined geometry of a bilayer scaffold, being predominantly located at the phase-separated layer of monomers and cross-linkers between the surfactant leaflets.
Richter, A. G., Dergunov, S. A., Kim, M. D., Shmakov, S. N., Pingali, S. V., Urban, V. S., Liu, Y. and Pinkhassik, E. "Unraveling the Single-Nanometer Thickness of Shells of Vesicle-Templated Polymer Nanocapsules" The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters 8(15): 3630-3636 (2017)