We report for the first time multiple vesicular morphologies in block copolymer complexes formed in aqueous media via hydrogen bonding interactions. A model AB/AC diblock copolymer system consisting of polystyrene-block- poly(acrylic acid) (PS-b-PAA) and polystyrene-block-poly(ethylene oxide) (PS-b-PEO) was examined using transmission electron microscopy, small-angle X-ray scattering, and dynamic light scattering. The complexation and morphological transitions were driven by the hydrogen bonding between the complementary binding sites on PAA and PEO blocks of the two diblock copolymers. Upon the addition of PS-b-PEO, a variety of bilayer aggregates were formed in PS-b-PAA/PS-b-PEO complexes including vesicles, multilamellar vesicles (MLVs), thick-walled vesicles (TWVs), interconnected compound vesicles (ICCVs), and irregular aggregates. Among these aggregates, ICCVs were observed as a new morphology. The morphology of aggregates was correlated with respect to the molar ratio of PEO to PAA. At [EO]/[AA] = 0.5, vesicles were observed, while MLVs were obtained at [EO]/[AA] = 1. TWVs and ICCVs were formed at [EO]/[AA] = 2 and 6, respectively. When [EO]/[AA] reached 8 and above, only irregular aggregates appeared. These findings suggest that complexation between two amphiphilic diblock copolymers is a viable approach to prepare polymer vesicles in aqueous media.
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