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One-Step Generation of Salt-Responsive Polyelectrolyte Microcapsules via Surfactant-Organized Nanoscale Interfacial Complexation in Emulsions (SO NICE)

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posted on 13.06.2017, 00:00 by Gang Duan, Martin F. Haase, Kathleen J. Stebe, Daeyeon Lee
Polyelectrolyte microcapsules are versatile compartments for encapsulation, protection, and controlled/triggered release of active agents. Conventional methods of polyelectrolyte microcapsule preparation require multiple steps or do not allow for efficient encapsulation of active agents in the lumen of the microcapsule. In this work, we present the fabrication of hollow polyelectrolyte microcapsules with a salt-responsive property based on surfactant organized nanoscale interfacial complexation in emulsions (SO NICE). In SO NICE, polyelectrolyte microcapsules are templated by water-in-oil-in-water (W/O/W) double emulsions. One polyelectrolyte is dissolved in the inner water droplet of the W/O/W double emulsions, whereas the second polyelectrolyte is dissolved in the organic phase by hydrophobic ion paring with an oppositely charged hydrophobic surfactant. Interfacial complexation of the two polyelectrolytes generates a few hundred-nanometer thick film at the inner water–oil interface of the W/O/W double emulsions. SO NICE microcapsules can be triggered to release their cargo by increasing the ionic strength of the solution, which is a hallmark of polyelectrolyte-based microcapsules. By enabling dissolution and interfacial complexation of polyelectrolytes in organic solvents, SO NICE widens the pallet of polymers that can be used to generate functional polyelectrolyte microcapsules with high encapsulation efficiency for applications in encapsulation and controlled/triggered release.