We report in this paper direct observation of redox-induced uptake of a charged species in micelles with a complex coacervate core, using a system consisting of negatively charged iron-coordination polymers and positively charged-b-neutral block co-polyelectrolytes. Neutral, charge-balanced micelles are first prepared by stoichiometric mixing of the oppositely charged components. Upon a redox stimulus, the micelles develop excess charges, which (as proposed in our previous work) most likely lead to sequestration of oppositely charged species, as the charge balance has to be restored. In this work we verify this prediction by using a rigid, rod-like iron coordination polymer, namely, the positively charged MEPE, as the species to be taken up. After uptake of this rigid cargo, the morphology of the micelles was found to transform from spheres to banana-shaped bundles and fibers, which clearly indicate the uptake of MEPE in the micellar core. Our result proves that the redox stimulus indeed induces excess charges in the core, which forces the self-assembled particles to change both composition and shape. As an interesting example of “adaptive self-assembly”, our findings also pave the way to novel redox-triggered uptake and release systems.
- metallo-supramolecular polymers