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Synthesis of hollow platelet polymer particles by spontaneous precision fragmentation


The creation of anisotropic core–shell nanoparticles using the living crystallization-driven self-assembly method results in colloidally stable solid particles. The fragmentation or degradation of crystallization-driven self-assembly nanomaterials is currently accessible only when intensive external stimuli are exerted. Controlling the stability of the crystalized core material may also allow structural evolution and fragmentation to be achieved. Here we report that two-dimensional (2D) platelets containing less stable domains specifically fragment upon ageing, providing a simple method to create hollow platelet polymer particles in one step. Mechanistic studies reveal that a high concentration of low-molecular-weight homopolymer in 2D platelet that crystallizes at low temperatures results in less stable domains, which fragment upon ageing. To illustrate the utility of spontaneous fragmentation, spatially selective fragmentation of 2D segmented platelets is used to prepare 2D hollow platelets that are usually inaccessible from a thermodynamic process.

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Fig. 1: Seeded growth of PBA polymer blend from 1D PCL core-forming seeds.
Fig. 2: Effect of mass ratios of homopolymer/BCP on the fragmentation process of 2D PBA platelets.
Fig. 3: Fragmentation of 2D PCL platelets prepared by seeded growth from 1D PBA core-forming seeds using a broad ĐM PCL homopolymer.
Fig. 4: Effect of low-MWt PBA fraction on the structural changes of 2D PBA platelets heteroepitaxially grown from 1D PDMA137-b-PCL56-b-PDMA137 seeds.
Fig. 5: Composition distribution among 2D PCL platelets prepared by seeded heteroepitaxial growth.
Fig. 6: Selective fragmentation of segmented platelets.

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The data supporting the findings of this study are available within this paper and its Supplementary Information. Source data are provided with this paper.


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Z.T. thanks the National Natural Science Foundation of China (22273087) and the Fundamental Research Funds of Zhejiang Sci-Tech University (23212098-Y) for financial support. L.L. thanks the Excellent Doctoral Candidate Degree Thesis Cultivation Funds of Zhejiang Sci-Tech University for financial support (LW-YP2024004). L.L., L.Z., S.C., S.W. and Z.T. thank the Zhejiang Sci-Tech University for support. C.T.J.F., A.P.D. and R.K.O. thank the University of Birmingham for support. R.-Y.W. thanks the Xi’an Jiaotong University for support. The authors also thank J.-T. Xu for his valuable comments and suggestions.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



Z.T. conceived the project. L.L. performed the experiments. S.C. prepared the polyester homopolymer samples. L.L. and Z.T. analysed the data with input from all other authors. Z.T. prepared the original manuscript with input from L.L., C.T.J.F., L.Z., R.-Y.W., S.W., A.P.D. and R.K.O. Z.T., C.T.J.F, A.P.D. and R.K.O. have substantially revised the manuscript. The project was supervised by Z.T.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Zaizai Tong.

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Nature Synthesis thanks Sylvia Ganda and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work. Primary Handling Editor: Alexandra Groves, in collaboration with the Nature Synthesis team.

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Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Schemes 1 and 2, Figs. 1–28, discussion and Tables 1–3.

Source data

Source Data Fig. 1

WAXD and AFM data.

Source Data Fig. 5

GPC data.

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Liu, L., Ferguson, C.T.J., Zhu, L. et al. Synthesis of hollow platelet polymer particles by spontaneous precision fragmentation. Nat. Synth 3, 903–912 (2024).

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