Tunable stability of monodisperse secondary O/W nano-emulsions†
Stable and biodegradable oil in water (O/W) nano-emulsions can have a huge impact on a wide range of bio-applications, from food to cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. Emulsions, however, are immiscible systems unstable over time; polymer coatings are known to be helpful, but an effective procedure to stabilize monodisperse and biodegradable O/W nano-emulsions is yet to be designed. Here, we coat biodegradable O/W nano-emulsions with a molecular layer of biodegradable polyelectrolytes such as polysaccharides – like chitosan – and polypeptides – like polylysine – and effectively re-disperse and densify the polymer coating at high pressure, thus obtaining monodisperse and stable systems. In particular, focusing on chitosan, our tests show that it is possible to obtain unprecedented ultra-stable O/W secondary nano-emulsions (diameter sizes tunable from ∼80 to 160 nm and polydispersion indices below 0.1) by combining this process with high concentrations of polymers. Depending on the polymer concentration, it is possible to control the level of coating that results in a tunable stability ranging from a few weeks to several months. The above range of concentrations has been investigated using a fluorescence-based approach with new insights into the coating evolution.