Manners I, Boott CE, Laine RF, Mahou P, Finnegan JR, Leitao EM, Webb SED, Kaminski CF, "In situ visualization of block copolymer self-assembly in organic media by super-resolution fluorescence microscopy", Chem. Eur. J. (2015), 21:18539–18542.
Analytical methods that enable visualization of nanomaterials derived from solution self-assembly processes in organic solvents are highly desirable. Here, we demonstrate the use of stimulated emission depletion microscopy (STED) and single molecule localization microscopy (SMLM) to map living crystallization-driven block copolymer (BCP) self-assembly in organic media at the sub-diffraction scale. Four different dyes were successfully used for single-colour super-resolution imaging of the BCP nanostructures allowing micelle length distributions to be determined in situ. Dual-colour SMLM imaging was used to measure and compare the rate of addition of red fluorescent BCP to the termini of green fluorescent seed micelles to generate block comicelles. Although well-established for aqueous systems, the results highlight the potential of super-resolution microscopy techniques for the interrogation of self-assembly processes in organic media.