Facile production of nanocomposites of carbon nanotubes and polycaprolactone with high aspect ratios with potential applications in drug delivery†
The geometries and surface properties of nanocarriers greatly influence the interaction between nanomaterials and living cells. In this work we combine multiwalled carbon nanotubes (CNTs) with poly-ε-caprolactone (PCL) to produce non-spherical nanocomposites with high aspect ratios by using a facile emulsion solvent evaporation method. Particles were characterised by dynamic light scattering (DLS), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), atomic force microscopy (AFM) and asymmetric flow field flow fractionation (AF4). Different sizes and morphologies of nanoparticles were produced depending on the concentration of the sodium dodecyl sulphate (SDS), CNTs and PCL. Rod-like PCL-CNT nanostructures with low polydispersity were obtained with 1.5 mg mL−1 of SDS, 0.9 mg mL−1 of CNTs and 10 mg mL−1 PCL. AFM analysis revealed that the PCL and PCL-CNT nanocomposite had comparatively similar moduli of 770 and 560 MPa respectively, indicating that all the CNTs have been coated with at least 2 nm of PCL. Thermogravimetric analysis of the PCL-CNT nanocomposite indicated that they contained 9.6% CNTs by mass. The asymmetric flow field flow fractionation of the samples revealed that the PCL-CNT had larger hydrodynamic diameters than PCL alone. Finally, the drug loading properties of the nanocomposites were assessed using docetaxel as the active substance. The nanocomposites showed comparable entrapment efficiencies of docetaxel (89%) to the CNTs alone (95%) and the PCL nanoparticles alone (81%). This is a facile method for obtaining non-spherical nanocomposites that combines the properties of PCL and CNTs such as the high aspect ratio, modulus. The high drug entrapment efficiency of these nanocomposites may have promising applications in drug delivery.