Bottom-up Evolution from Disks to High-Genus Polymersomes

We report the design of polymersomes using a bottom-up approach where the self-assembly of amphiphilic copolymers poly(2-(methacryloyloxy) ethyl phosphorylcholine)–poly(2-(diisopropylamino) ethyl methacrylate) (PMPC-PDPA) into membranes is tuned using pH and temperature. We study this process in detail using transmission electron microscopy (TEM), nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, dynamic light scattering (DLS), and stop-flow ab- sorbance disclosing the molecular and supramolecular anatomy of each structure observed. We report a clear evolution from disk micelles to vesicle to high-genus vesicles where each passage is controlled by pH switch or temperature. We show that the process can be rationalised adapting membrane physics theories disclosing important scaling principles that allow the estimation of the vesiculation minimal radius as well as chain entanglement and coupling. This allows us to propose a new approach to generate nanoscale vesicles with genus from 0 to 70 which have been very elusive and difficult to control so far.