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Flower-like droplets by self-emulsification of a phase-separating (SEPS) aqueous film

Abstract

Self-emulsification, referring to the spontaneous formation of droplets of one phase in another immiscible phase, is attracting growing interest because of its simplicity in creating droplets. Existing self-emulsification methods usually rely on phase inversion, temperature cycling, and solvent evaporation. However, achieving spatiotemporal control over the morphology of self-emulsified droplets remains challenging. In this work, a conceptually new approach of creating both simple and complex droplets by self-emulsification of a phase-separating (SEPS) aqueous film, is reported. The aqueous film is formed by depositing a surfactant-laden aqueous droplet onto an aqueous surface, and the fragmentation of film into droplets is triggered by a wetting transition. Smaller and more uniform droplets can be achieved by introducing liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS). Moreover, properly modulating quadruple LLPS and film fragmentation enables creation of highly multicellular droplets such as flower-like droplets stabilized by the interfacial self-assembly of nanoparticles. This work provides a novel strategy to design aqueous droplets by LLPS, and will inspire a wide range of applications such as membraneless organelle synthesis, cell mimics and delivery.

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Supplementary files

Article information


Submitted
13 Apr 2020
Accepted
09 May 2020
First published
11 May 2020

Soft Matter, 2020, Accepted Manuscript
Article type
Paper

Flower-like droplets by self-emulsification of a phase-separating (SEPS) aqueous film

Y. Chao, L. T. Hung, J. Feng, H. Yuan, Y. Pan, W. Guo, Y. Zhang and H. C. Shum, Soft Matter, 2020, Accepted Manuscript , DOI: 10.1039/D0SM00660B

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