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Keywords:

  • polymersomes;
  • microfluidics;
  • hydrogels;
  • controlled release;
  • emulsions

Abstract

Capillary microfluidic devices are used to prepare monodisperse polymersomes consisting of a hydrogel core and a bilayer membrane of amphiphilic diblock-copolymers. To make polymersomes, water-in-oil-in-water double-emulsion drops are prepared as templates through single-step emulsification in a capillary microfluidic device. The amphiphile-laden middle oil phase of the double-emulsion drop dewets from the surface of the innermost water drop, which contains hydrogel prepolymers; this dewetting leads to the formation of a bilayer membrane. Subsequently, the oil phase completely separates from the innermost water drop, leaving a polymersome. Upon UV illumination of the polymersome, the prepolymers encapsulated within the interior are crosslinked, forming a hydrogel core. The hydrogel network within the polymersomes facilitates sustained release of the encapsulated materials and increases the stability of the polymersomes through the formation of a scaffold to support the bilayer. In addition, this approach provides a facile method to make monodisperse hydrogel particles directly dispersed in water.