Preparation of Calcium Alginate Nanoparticles Using Water-in-Oil (W/O) Nanoemulsions

A procedure for the preparation of calcium alginate nanoparticles in the aqueous phase of water-in-oil (W/O) nanoemulsions was developed. The emulsions were produced from mixtures of the nonionic surfactant tetraethylene glycol monododecyl ether (C12E4), decane, and aqueous solutions of up to 2 wt % sodium alginate by means of the phase inversion temperature (PIT) emulsification method. This method allows the preparation of finely dispersed emulsions without a large input of mechanical energy. With alginate concentrations of 1–2 wt % in the aqueous phase, emulsions showed good stability against Ostwald ripening and narrow, monomodal distributions of droplets with radii <100 nm. Gelation of the alginate was induced by the addition of aqueous CaCl2 to the emulsions under stirring, and particles formed were collected using a simple procedure based on extraction of the surfactant on addition of excess oil. The final particles were characterized using cryo-transmission electron microscopy (cryo-TEM) and dynamic light scattering (DLS). They were found to be essentially spherical with a homogeneous interior, and their size was similar to that of the initial emulsion droplets. The herein presented “low-energy” method for preparation of biocompatible nanoparticles has the potential to be used in various applications, e.g., for the encapsulation of sensitive biomacromolecules.