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One-Step Formation of W/O/W Multiple Emulsions Stabilized by Single Amphiphilic Block Copolymers

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journal contribution
posted on 07.02.2012, 00:00 authored by Liangzhi Hong, Guanqing Sun, Jinge Cai, To Ngai
Multiple emulsions are complex polydispersed systems in which both oil-in-water (O/W) and water-in-oil (W/O) emulsion exists simultaneously. They are often prepared accroding to a two-step process and commonly stabilized using a combination of hydrophilic and hydrophobic surfactants. Recently, some reports have shown that multiple emulsions can also be produced through one-step method with simultaneous occurrence of catastrophic and transitional phase inversions. However, these reported multiple emulsions need surfactant blends and are usually described as transitory or temporary systems. Herein, we report a one-step phase inversion process to produce water-in-oil-in-water (W/O/W) multiple emulsions stabilized solely by a synthetic diblock copolymer. Unlike the use of small molecule surfactant combinations, block copolymer stabilized multiple emulsions are remarkably stable and show the ability to separately encapsulate both polar and nonpolar cargos. The importance of the conformation of the copolymer surfactant at the interfaces with regards to the stability of the multiple emulsions using the one-step method is discussed.