Shape is an essential property of polymeric particles. Herein, we propose a simple method to synthesize polymeric particles with a well-controlled concave shape. Our method takes advantage of the powerful seeded emulsion polymerization strategy with the well-known principle of “like dissolves like” in solvent chemistry. We first prepared polystyrene (PS) particles with a single dimple by seeded emulsion polymerization. Then the dimpled PS particles were dispersed in a dimethylformamide (DMF) and water mixture. Consequently, the non-crosslinked polymer chains inside the particle were dissolved by DMF, a good solvent for PS, and the PS chains migrated out of the particle, causing buckling of the dimple and enlargement of the concave. By systematic change of the fraction of DMF in the solvent mixture, we changed the amount of the dissolved PS chains, and achieved polymeric particles with precisely tuned degree of concaveness. These concave particles were found to readily self-assemble, driven by polymer-induced depletion interaction. The concave PS particles reported here provide potential building blocks for self-assembled polymeric materials, and new model systems for condensed matter research.
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