American Chemical Society
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Osmosis-Mediated Microfluidic Production of Submillimeter-Sized Capsules with an Ultrathin Shell for Cosmetic Applications

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posted on 2022-04-15, 11:04 authored by Wahyu Martumpal Hamonangan, Sangmin Lee, Ye Hun Choi, Wanzhao Li, Meiling Tai, Shin-Hyun Kim
There is a demand for submillimeter-sized capsules with an ultrathin shell with high visibility and no tactile sensation after release for cosmetic applications. However, neither bulk emulsification nor droplet microfluidics can directly produce such capsules in a controlled manner. Herein, we report the microfluidic production of submillimeter-sized capsules with a spacious lumen and ultrathin biodegradable shell through osmotic inflation of water-in-oil-in-water (W/O/W) double-emulsion drops. Monodisperse double-emulsion drops are produced with a capillary microfluidic device to have an organic solution of poly­(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) in the middle oil layer. Hypotonic conditions inflate the drops, leading to core volume expansion and oil-layer thickness reduction. Afterward, the oil layer is consolidated to the PLGA shell through solvent evaporation. The degree of inflation is controllable with the osmotic pressure. With a strong hypotonic condition, the capsule radius increases up to 330 μm and the shell thickness decreases to 1 μm so that the ratio of the thickness to radius is as small as 0.006. The large capsules with an ultrathin shell readily release their encapsulant under an external force by shell rupture. In the mechanical test of single capsules, the threshold strain for shell rupture is reduced from 75 to 12%, and the threshold stress is decreased by two orders for highly inflated capsules in comparison with noninflated ones. During the shell rupture, the tactile sensation of capsules gradually disappears as the capsules lose volume and the residual shells are ultrathin.