SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Keywords:

  • core–shell structures;
  • gels;
  • microencapsulation;
  • microfluidics;
  • polymers

Abstract

Microgel capsules are micrometer-sized particles that consist of a cross-linked, solvent-swollen polymer network complexed with additives. These particles have various applications, such as drug delivery, catalysis, and analytics. To optimize the performance of microgel capsules, it is crucial to control their size, shape, and content of encapsulated additives with high precision. There are two classes of microgel-capsule structures. One class comprises bulk microcapsules that consist of a polymer network spanning the entire particle and entrapping the additive within its meshes. The other class comprises core–shell structures; in this case, the microgel polymer network just forms the shell of the particles, whereas their interior is hollow and hosts the encapsulated payload. Both types of structures can be produced with exquisite control by droplet-based microfluidic templating followed by subsequent droplet gelation. This article highlights some early and recent achievements in the use of this technique to tailor soft microgel capsules; it also discusses applications of these particles. A special focus is on the encapsulation of living cells, which are very sensitive and complex but also very useful additives for immobilization within microgel particles.