Complex emulsions for shape control based on mass transfer and phase separation†
Complex emulsions are used to fabricate new morphologies of multiple Janus droplets, evolving from non-engulfing to complete engulfing core/shell configuration. The produced droplets contain an aqueous phase of dextran (DEX) solution and an oil phase, which is mixed with ethoxylated trimethylolpropane triacrylate (ETPTA) and poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylate (PEGDA). The PEGDA in the oil phase is transferred into the aqueous phase to form complex morphologies due to the phase separation of PEGDA and DEX. The effects are investigated including the ratio of oil to aqueous phase, the content of initial PEGDA, DEX and surfactants, and the type of surfactants. DEX/PEGDA–ETPTA core/shell-single phase Janus droplets are formed with an increasing engulfed oil droplet into the aqueous droplet while the ratio of oil to aqueous phase increases or the initial PEGDA content increases. The high DEX content leads to the DEX–PEGDA–ETPTA doublet Janus. The use of surfactants polyglycerol polyricinoleate (PGPR) and Span 80 results in the formation of DEX/PEGDA/ETPTA single core/double shell and DEX/PEGDA–ETPTA core/shell-single phase Janus droplets, respectively. These complex emulsions are utilized to fabricate solid particles of complex shapes. This method contributes to new material design underpinned by mass transfer and phase separation, which can be extended to other complex emulsion systems.