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Internal Structure of Nanometer-Sized Droplets Prepared by Antisolvent Precipitation

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journal contribution
posted on 07.10.2019, 15:33 authored by Isabel Schuldes, Dennis M. Noll, Torben Schindler, Tobias Zech, Klaus Götz, Marie-Sousai Appavou, Peter Boesecke, Frank Steiniger, Peter S. Schulz, Tobias Unruh
Antisolvent precipitation (AP) is a low-cost and less-invasive preparation alternative for organic nanoparticles compared to top-down methods such as high-pressure homogenization or milling. Here we report on particularly small organic nanoparticles (NPs) prepared by AP. It has been found for various materials that these NPs in their liquid state exhibit a significant degree of molecular order at their interface toward the dispersion medium including ubiquinones (coenzyme Q10), triglycerides (trimyristin, tripalmitin), and alkanes (tetracosane). This finding is independent of the use of a stabilizer in the formulation. While this is obviously a quite general interfacial structuring effect, the respective structural details of specific NPs systems might differ. Here, a detailed structural characterization of very small liquid coenzyme Q10 (Q10) NPs is presented as a particular example for this phenomenon. The Q10 NPs have been prepared by AP in the presence of two different stabilizers, sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) and pentaethylene glycol monododecyl ether (C12E5), respectively, and without any stabilizer. The NPs’ size is initially analyzed by photon correlation spectroscopy (PCS). The SDS-stabilized Q10 NPs have been studied further by differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), small-angle X-ray and neutron scattering (SAXS, SANS), wide-angle X-ray scattering (WAXS), and cryogenic transmission electron microscopy (CryoTEM). A simultaneous analysis of SAXS and contrast variation SANS studies revealed the molecular arrangement within the interface between the NPs and the dispersion medium. The Q10 NPs stabilized by SDS and C12E5, respectively, are small (down to 19.9 nm) and stable (for at least 16 months) even when no stabilizer is used. The SDS-stabilized Q10 NPs reported here, are therewith, to the best of our knowledge, the smallest organic NPs which have been reported to be prepared by AP so far. In particular, these NPs exhibit a core–shell structure consisting of an amorphous Q10 core and a surrounding shell, which is mainly composed of oriented Q10 molecules and aligned SDS molecules. This structure suggests a significant amphiphilic behavior and a rather unexpected stabilizing role of Q10 molecules.

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