Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, Vol.586, 445-456, 2021
Synthesis of polymer nanoparticles via electrohydrodynamic emulsification-mediated self-assembly
Hypothesis: Electrospray can rapidly produce fine, organic solvent-in-water emulsions in the absence of surfactant via electrohydrodynamic emulsification (EE), a reverse configuration of traditional electrospray. This paper investigates whether EE can produce high-quality nanocomposites comprised of block co-polymers and organic nanoparticles (NPs) via the interfacial instability (IS) self-assembly method. Surfactant-free approaches may increase encapsulation efficiency and product uniformity, process speed, and ease of downstream product purification. Experiments: All particles were produced using EE-mediated self-assembly (SA) (EE-SA). Particles were produced using poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) polymers as proof of concept. Then, block copolymer (BCP) micelles were synthesized from polystyrene-block-poly(ethylene oxide) (PS-b-PEO) (PS 9.5 kDa: PEO 18.0 kDa) in the presence and absence of superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs) or quantum dots (QDs). Encapsulant concentration was varied, and the effect of encapsulant NP ligands on final particle size was investigated. Findings: EE-SA generated both pure polymer NPs and nanocomposites containing SPIONs and QDs. PLGA particles spanned from sub- to super-micron sizes. PS-b-PEO NPs and nanocomposites were highly monodisperse, and more highly loaded than those made via a conventional, surfactant-rich IS process. Free ligands decreased the size of pure BCP particles. Increasing encapsulant levels led to a morphological transition from spherical to worm-like to densely loaded structures. (C) 2020 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.