Surface Grafting Polyphosphoesters on Cellulose Nanocrystals To Improve the Emulsification Efficacy

Particle-stabilized emulsion systems have been developed to address the problematic properties of conventional surfactants. However, the nature and properties of the fine particles used in such systems remain a critical issue for stability enhancement. Herein, we describe a thermoswitchable oil-in-water (O/W) particle-stabilized emulsion that exhibits improved stability due to the addition of cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) modified with poly­[2-isopropoxy-2-oxo-1,3,2-dioxaphospholane] (PIPP), which exhibits relatively good biocompatibility and biodegradability. Various parameters, such as surface activity, concentration of particles, polarity of solvents, and temperatures, on the formation of emulsions with CNCs grafted with PIPP (CNC-g-PIPP) were investigated. Results showed that the surface activity of CNC-g-PIPP was significantly improved compared with the unmodified material. Heptane-in-water particle-stabilized emulsions with CNC-g-PIPP were stably formed, and the effect of temperature on the stability of the emulsions was characterized. CNC-g-PIPP exhibited function as an effective particulate emulsifier at 4 °C because of the strong adsorption at the oil–water interface. However, the emulsions rapidly disintegrated at 45 °C, which is above the low critical solution temperature of PIPP on CNC, as the hydrophobized CNC-g-PIPP desorbed from the oil–water interface. Based on these findings, a thermally induced reversible emulsification/demulsification was presented. The resulting switchable particle-stabilized emulsion based on CNC-g-PIPP shows promise for the ability to control the stability of an emulsion in response to temperature, which is attractive for use in biological applications.