The key to the use of polymersomes as effective molecular delivery systems is in the ability to design processing routes that can efficiently encapsulate the molecular payload. We have evaluated various surface rehydration mechanisms for encapsulation, in each case characterizing the morphologies formed using DLS and confocal microscopy as well as determining the encapsulation efficiency for the hydrophilic dye Rhodamine B. In contrast to bulk methods, where the encapsulation efficiencies are low, we find that higher efficiencies can be obtained by the rehydration of thin films. We relate these results to the non-equilibrium mechanisms that underlie vesicle formation and discuss how an understanding of these mechanisms can help optimize encapsulation efficiencies. Our conclusion is that, even considering the good encapsulation efficiency, surface methods are still unsuitable for the massive scale-up needed when applied to commercial “mass market” molecular delivery scenarios. However, targeting more specialized applications for high value ingredients (like pharmaceuticals) might be more feasible.
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