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February 2024  
Controlling adsorption of diblock copolymer nanoparticles onto an aldehyde-functionalized hydrophilic polymer brush via pH modulation

Sterically stabilized diblock copolymer nanoparticles with a well-defined spherical morphology and tunable diameter were prepared by RAFT aqueous emulsion polymerization of benzyl methacrylate at 70 °C. The steric stabilizer precursor used for these syntheses contained pendent cis-diol groups, which means that such nanoparticles can react with a suitable aldehyde-functional surface via acetal bond formation. This principle is examined herein by growing an aldehyde-functionalized polymer brush from a planar silicon wafer and studying the extent of nanoparticle adsorption onto this model substrate from aqueous solution at 25 °C using a quartz crystal microbalance (QCM). The adsorbed amount, Γ, depends on both the nanoparticle diameter and the solution pH, with minimal adsorption observed at pH 7 or 10 and substantial adsorption achieved at pH 4. Variable-temperature QCM studies provide strong evidence for chemical adsorption, while scanning electron microscopy images recorded for the nanoparticle-coated brush surface after drying indicate mean surface coverages of up to 62%. This fundamental study extends our understanding of the chemical adsorption of nanoparticles on soft substrates.

January 2024  

At the start of the new year, we would like to take the opportunity to congratulate Prof Jenny Clark on her recent promotion to Professor of Materials Physics within the Department of Physics and Astronomy at The University of Sheffield.


Professor Jenny Clark

Department of Physics and Astronomy

University of Sheffield

January 2024  

Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are small, membrane-enclosed vesicles released by cells into the extracellular milieu. They are found in all body fluids and contain a variety of functional cargo including DNA, RNA, proteins, glycoproteins and lipids, able to provoke phenotypic responses in cells, both locally and at distant sites. They are implicated in a wide array of physiological and pathological processes and hence have attracted considerable attention in recent years as potential therapeutic targets, drug delivery vehicles and biomarkers of disease. In this review we summarise the major functions of EVs in health and disease and discuss their translational potential, highlighting opportunities of – and challenges to – capitalising on our rapidly increasing understanding of EV biology for patient benefit.

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