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Issue 30, 2016
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Bespoke contrast-matched diblock copolymer nanoparticles enable the rational design of highly transparent Pickering double emulsions

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Abstract

We report the preparation of highly transparent oil-in-water Pickering emulsions using contrast-matched organic nanoparticles. This is achieved via addition of judicious amounts of either sucrose or glycerol to an aqueous dispersion of poly(glycerol monomethacrylate)56–poly(2,2,2-trifluoroethyl methacrylate)500 [PGMA–PTFEMA] diblock copolymer nanoparticles prior to high shear homogenization with an equal volume of n-dodecane. The resulting Pickering emulsions comprise polydisperse n-dodecane droplets of 20–100 μm diameter and exhibit up to 96% transmittance across the visible spectrum. In contrast, control experiments using non-contrast-matched poly(glycerol monomethacrylate)56–poly(benzyl methacrylate)300 [PGMA56–PBzMA300] diblock copolymer nanoparticles as a Pickering emulsifier only produced conventional highly turbid emulsions. Thus contrast-matching of the two immiscible phases is a necessary but not sufficient condition for the preparation of highly transparent Pickering emulsions: it is essential to use isorefractive nanoparticles in order to minimize light scattering. Furthermore, highly transparent oil-in-water-in-oil Pickering double emulsions can be obtained by homogenizing the contrast-matched oil-in-water Pickering emulsion prepared using the PGMA56–PTFEMA500 nanoparticles with a contrast-matched dispersion of hydrophobic poly(lauryl methacrylate)39–poly(2,2,2-trifluoroethyl methacrylate)800 [PLMA39–PTFEMA800] diblock copolymer nanoparticles in n-dodecane. Finally, we show that an isorefractive oil-in-water Pickering emulsion enables fluorescence spectroscopy to be used to monitor the transport of water-insoluble small molecules (pyrene and benzophenone) between n-dodecane droplets. Such transport is significantly less efficient than that observed for the equivalent isorefractive surfactant-stabilized emulsion. Conventional turbid emulsions do not enable such a comparison to be made because the intense light scattering leads to substantial spectral attenuation.

Graphical abstract: Bespoke contrast-matched diblock copolymer nanoparticles enable the rational design of highly transparent Pickering double emulsions

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Publication details

The article was received on 12 May 2016, accepted on 04 Jul 2016 and first published on 06 Jul 2016


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C6NR03856E
Citation: Nanoscale, 2016,8, 14497-14506
  • Open access: Creative Commons BY license
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    Bespoke contrast-matched diblock copolymer nanoparticles enable the rational design of highly transparent Pickering double emulsions

    M. J. Rymaruk, K. L. Thompson, M. J. Derry, N. J. Warren, L. P. D. Ratcliffe, C. N. Williams, S. L. Brown and S. P. Armes, Nanoscale, 2016, 8, 14497
    DOI: 10.1039/C6NR03856E

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