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Keywords:

  • macromolecular co-assembly;
  • interpolyelectrolyte complexes;
  • polyelectrolytes;
  • branched polymers;
  • star-shaped polymers;
  • block copolymers;
  • micelles

Abstract

This mini-review reports on complex macromolecular architectures (interpolyelectrolyte complexes) based on star-shaped polyelectrolytes. These complexes can be prepared in aqueous media via electrostatically driven co-assembly of star-shaped polyions (a) with oppositely charged linear homopolyelectrolytes or (b) with oppositely charged double hydrophilic (ionic/non-ionic) diblock copolymers. In case (a), the complexes can be water-soluble if the charge of the star-shaped macromolecule is only partially compensated by a linear polyion. In case (b), the complexes retain their solubility in aqueous media even under a full charge compensation of the polymeric components. In both cases, the complex macromolecular architectures based on star-shaped polyelectrolytes are characterized by a distinct compartmentalized structure of a micellar (‘core–corona’) type with an insoluble core, which is assembled from coupled monomer units of the oppositely charged polymeric components, and a hydrophilic, either ionic or non-ionic, corona. Copyright © 2012 Society of Chemical Industry