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Unraveling the Single-Nanometer Thickness of Shells of Vesicle-Templated Polymer Nanocapsules



Andrew G.. Richter, Sergey A. Dergunov, Mariya D. Kim, Sergey N. Shmakov, Sai Venkatesh Pingali, Volker S. Urban, Yun Liu, Eugene Pinkhassik


The recent emergence of vesicle-templated nanocapsules as a viable platform for diverse applications has heightened the need for detailed structural characterization of nanocapsule shells and for better understanding of surfactant-mediated directed assembly of nanomaterials. Information on the thickness is a critical structural parameter of nanocapsules, where the shell plays a crucial role providing mechanical stability and control of permeability. Here we used small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) to determine the thickness of freestanding and surfactant-stabilized nanocapsules. Despite being at the edge of detectability, we were able to show the polymer shell thickness to be typically 1.0 plus or minus}0.1 nm, which places vesicle-templated nanocapsules among the thinnest materials ever created. The extreme thinness of the shells has implications for several areas: mass-transport through pores in the shell is relatively unimpeded; pore-forming molecules are not limited to those spanning the entire bilayer; the internal volume of the capsules is maximized; and insight has been gained on how polymerization occurs in the confined geometry of a bilayer scaffold, being predominantly located at the phase-separated layer of monomers and crosslinkers between the surfactant leaflets.
Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters


small angle neutron scattering, ultrathin membranes, two-dimensional polymers, directed assembly, confined polymerization.


Richter, A. , Dergunov, S. , Kim, M. , Shmakov, S. , Pingali, S. , Urban, V. , Liu, Y. and Pinkhassik, E. (2017), Unraveling the Single-Nanometer Thickness of Shells of Vesicle-Templated Polymer Nanocapsules, Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, [online], (Accessed June 23, 2024)


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Created August 2, 2017, Updated October 12, 2021