Microfluidic Droplet-Facilitated Hierarchical Assembly for Dual Cargo Loading and Synergistic Delivery

Bottom-up hierarchical assembly has emerged as an elaborate and energy-efficient strategy for the fabrication of smart materials. Herein, we present a hierarchical assembly process, whereby linear amphiphilic block copolymers are self-assembled into micelles, which in turn are accommodated at the interface of microfluidic droplets via cucurbit[8]­uril-mediated host–guest chemistry to form supramolecular microcapsules. The monodisperse microcapsules can be used for simultaneous carriage of both organic (Nile Red) and aqueous-soluble (fluorescein isothiocyanate-dextran) cargo. Furthermore, the well-defined compartmentalized structure benefits from the dynamic nature of the supramolecular interaction and offers synergistic delivery of cargos with triggered release or through photocontrolled porosity. This demonstration of premeditated hierarchical assembly, where interactions from the molecular to microscale are designed, illustrates the power of this route toward accessing the next generation of functional materials and encapsulation strategies.