, Volume 69, Issue 3, pp 337-346
Date: 21 Oct 2011

Single-chain polymer nanoparticles

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The synthesis of polymer nanoparticles (NPs) with controlled characteristics has become an appealing research topic lately. Nanomedicine, and especially drug delivery and imaging, are fields that require particles of a controlled size and with a tailored arrangement of functional groups. Intramolecular cross-linking or collapse of single polymer chains has emerged as an efficient alternative for the synthesis of well-defined polymer NPs. This technique allows the generation of 1.5–20 nm particles with a wide variety of chemical compositions and functionalities. This review begins by gathering synthetic strategies described in the literature and groups them into four main synthetic methods: homo-functional collapse, hetero-functional collapse, crosslinker-mediated collapse, and one-block collapse of diblock or triblock copolymers. Afterwards, the main characterization techniques and physical properties of single-chain polymer NPs (SCPNs) are exposed. Finally, several applications in nanomedicine are mentioned followed by some future perspectives.