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Issue 13, 2013
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Exploring a direct injection method for microfluidic generation of polymer microgels

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Abstract

Microfluidics (MFs) offers a promising method for the preparation of polymer microgels with exquisite control over their dimensions, shapes and morphologies. A challenging task in this process is the generation of droplets (precursors for microgels) from highly viscous polymer solutions. Spatial separation of MF emulsification and gelation of the precursor droplets on chip can address this challenge. In the present work, we explored the application of the “direct injection” method for the preparation of microgels by adding a highly concentrated polymer solution or a gelling agent directly into the precursor droplets. In the first system, primary droplets were generated from a dilute aqueous solution of agarose, followed by the injection of the concentrated agarose solution directly in the primary droplets. The secondary droplets served as precursors for microgels. In the second system, primary droplets were generated from the low-viscous solution of methyl-β-cyclodextrin and poly(ethylene glycol) end-terminated with octadecyl hydrophobic groups. Addition of surfactant directly into the primary droplets led to the binding of methyl-β-cyclodextrin to the surfactant, thereby releasing hydrophobized poly(ethylene glycol) to form polymer microgels. Our results show that, when optimized, the direct injection method can be used for microgel preparation from highly viscous liquids and thus this method expands the range of polymers used for MF generation of microgels.

Graphical abstract: Exploring a direct injection method for microfluidic generation of polymer microgels

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Publication details

The article was received on 17 Dec 2012, accepted on 23 Jan 2013 and first published on 24 Jan 2013


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C3LC41385C
Lab Chip, 2013,13, 2547-2553

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    Exploring a direct injection method for microfluidic generation of polymer microgels

    Y. Wang, E. Tumarkin, D. Velasco, M. Abolhasani, W. Lau and E. Kumacheva, Lab Chip, 2013, 13, 2547
    DOI: 10.1039/C3LC41385C

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