Colloidal inverse bicontinuous cubic membranes of block copolymers with tunable surface functional groups

Nat Chem. 2014 Jun;6(6):534-41. doi: 10.1038/nchem.1946. Epub 2014 May 11.


Analogous to the complex membranes found in cellular organelles, such as the endoplasmic reticulum, the inverse cubic mesophases of lipids and their colloidal forms (cubosomes) possess internal networks of water channels arranged in crystalline order, which provide a unique nanospace for membrane-protein crystallization and guest encapsulation. Polymeric analogues of cubosomes formed by the direct self-assembly of block copolymers in solution could provide new polymeric mesoporous materials with a three-dimensionally organized internal maze of large water channels. Here we report the self-assembly of amphiphilic dendritic-linear block copolymers into polymer cubosomes in aqueous solution. The presence of precisely defined bulky dendritic blocks drives the block copolymers to form spontaneously highly curved bilayers in aqueous solution. This results in the formation of colloidal inverse bicontinuous cubic mesophases. The internal networks of water channels provide a high surface area with tunable surface functional groups that can serve as anchoring points for large guests such as proteins and enzymes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Macromolecular Substances / chemistry*
  • Membranes, Artificial*
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Molecular Structure
  • Polymers / chemistry*
  • Surface Properties
  • Surface-Active Agents


  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Membranes, Artificial
  • Polymers
  • Surface-Active Agents