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Pure Appl. Chem., 2001, Vol. 73, No. 3, pp. 435-441

Microscopy and optical manipulation of dendrimer-built vesicles

T. Gensch1*, K. Tsuda1, G. C. Dol1, L. Latterini1, J. W. Weener2, A. P. H. J. Schenning2, J. Hofkens1, E. W. Meijer2 and F. C. De Schryver1

1 Department of Chemistry, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Celestijnenlaan 200F, 3001 Heverlee, Belgium
2 Laboratory of Macromolecular and Organic Chemistry, Eindhoven University of Technology, P.O. Box 513, 5600 MB Eindhoven, The Netherlands

Abstract: A fifth-generation poly(propylene imine) dendrimer decorated with palmitoyl- and azobenzene-containing alkyl groups forms giant vesicles in aqueous solutions with diameters from 50 nm up to 20 mm and a multilaminar onion-like structure. Dense and ordered arrangement of the azobenzene chromophores in the bilayer structure leads to fluorescence with lmax= 600 nm. The fluorescence intensity can be increased by irradiation with blue light, and at low pH a distinctive blue shift of the spectrum is observed. With the aid of a single-beam optical tweezers it is possible to trap vesicles and direct them in a billiard-like fashion against each other using forces in the range of several pN. In collision experiments, the vesicles behave like hard spheres, and merging is not observed.