The folding and assembly of sequence-defined polymers into precisely ordered nanostructures promises a class of well-defined biomimetic architectures with specific function. Amphiphilic diblock copolymers are known to self-assemble in water to form a variety of nanostructured morphologies including spheres, disks, cylinders, and vesicles. In all of these cases, the predominant driving force for assembly is the formation of a hydrophobic core that excludes water, whereas the hydrophilic blocks are solvated and extend into the aqueous phase. However, such polymer systems typically have broad molar mass distributions and lack the purity and sequence-defined structure often associated with biologically derived polymers. Here, we demonstrate that purified, monodisperse amphiphilic diblock copolypeptoids, with chemically distinct domains that are congruent in size and shape, can behave like molecular tile units that spontaneously assemble into hollow, crystalline nanotubes in water. The nanotubes consist of stacked, porous crystalline rings, and are held together primarily by side-chain van der Waals interactions. The peptoid nanotubes form without a central hydrophobic core, chirality, a hydrogen bond network, and electrostatic or π-π interactions. These results demonstrate the remarkable structure-directing influence ofn-alkane and ethyleneoxy side chains in polymer self-assembly. More broadly, this work suggests that flexible, low-molecular-weight sequence-defined polymers can serve as molecular tile units that can assemble into precision supramolecular architectures.
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