Tuning the Reactivity of Micellar Nanoreactors by Precise Adjustments of the Amphiphile and Substrate Hydrophobicity

Shahar Tevet, Shreyas S. Wagle, Gadi Slor, Roey J. Amir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Polymeric assemblies, such as micelles, are gaining increasing attention due to their ability to serve as nanoreactors for the execution of organic reactions in aqueous media. The ability to conduct organic transformations, which have been traditionally limited to organic media, in water is essential for the further development of important fields ranging from green catalysis to bioorthogonal chemistry. Considering the recent progress that has been made to expand the range of organometallic reactions conducted using nanoreactors, we aimed to gain a deeper understanding of the roles of the hydrophobicity of both the core of micellar nanoreactors and the substrates on the reaction rates in water. Toward this goal, we designed a set of five metal-loaded micelles composed of polyethylene glycol–dendron amphiphiles and studied their ability to serve as nanoreactors for a palladium-mediated depropargylation reaction of four substrates with different log P values. Using dendrons as the hydrophobic block, we could precisely tune the lipophilicity of the nanoreactors, which allowed us to reveal linear correlations between the rate constants and the hydrophobicity of the amphiphiles (estimated by the dendron’s cLog P). While exponential dependence was obtained for the lipophilicity of the substrates, a similar degree of rate acceleration was observed due to the increase in the hydrophobicity of the amphiphiles regardless of the effect of the substrate’s log P. Our results demonstrate that while increasing the hydrophobicity of the substrates may be used to accelerate reaction rates, tuning the hydrophobicity of the micellar nanoreactors can serve as a vital tool for further optimization of the reactivity and selectivity of nanoreactors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11419-11426
Number of pages8
Issue number24
StatePublished - 28 Dec 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Organic Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Materials Chemistry


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