Poly(styrene-alt-maleimide) (SMI) is a cationic polyelectrolyte soluble in acidic solution, having a pH<3.  This alternating copolymer is expected to self-assemble in similar structures as SMA, which Cecile Malardier worked on.  SMI was shown to self-associates into ordered nano-structures and were characterized by AFM of dilute solutions (< 1%).  At pH 1-2, ring shaped structures, diameter of 70nm and height 15nm were observed, while at pH 3, linear structures with random curves and bifurcations were observed: 1nm long and 10nm high.  Molecular Modelling helps understand the self-assembly of these polymers and predict the dimensions of the nanostructures. 

These polymer nanostructures should find applications as polymerization mediums because of their hydrophobic interior. Once the association is understood, derivatives with functional properties can be synthesized.


Whitehead group


Prof. M.A. Whitehead
Department of Chemistry
McGill University
Otto Maass Chemistry Building,
801 Sherbrooke St. West,
Room 352,
Montreal, Quebec,
H3A 2K6, Canada.

office: (514) 398-6239
lab: (514) 398-6905
fax: (514) 398-3797