Supramolecular block copolymers as novel UV and NIR responsive nanocarriers based on a photolabile coumarin unit

A new series of amphiphilic block copolymers has been prepared by ring opening polymerization (ROP) of cyclic carbonates using PEG as initiator. The light responsive unit [7–(diethylaminocoumarin)–4–yl]methyl ester has been introduced by a modular and versatile supramolecular approach, while a reference covalent copolymer has been synthesized for the shake of comparison. Synthesized copolymers showed monomodal narrow distributions and were able to self-assemble into spherical micelles when dispersed in water. UV irradiation allowed us the modification of the self-assemblies morphology, as proved by means of fluorescence spectroscopy, dynamic light scattering (DLS) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Both the supramolecular and covalent functionalized block copolymers were able to encapsulate small fluorescent probes as payload and to release them upon UV and NIR irradiation.