Compartmentalized structures widely exist in cellular systems (organelles) and perform essential functions in smart composite materials (microcapsules, vasculatures, and micelles) to provide localized functionality and enhance materials' compatibility. An entirely water-free compartmentalization system is of significant value to the materials community as nonaqueous conditions are critical to packaging microcapsules with water-free hydrophilic payloads while avoiding energy-intensive drying steps. Few nonaqueous encapsulation techniques are known, especially when considering just the scalable processes that operate in batch mode. Herein, we report a robust oil-in-oil Pickering emulsion system that is compatible with nonaqueous interfacial reactions as required for encapsulation of hydrophilic payloads. A major conceptual advance of this work is the notion of the partitioning inhibitor - a chemical agent that greatly reduces the payload's distribution between the emulsion's two phases, thus providing appropriate conditions for emulsion-templated interfacial polymerization. As a specific example, an immiscible hydrocarbon-amine pair of liquids is emulsified by the incorporation of guanidinium chloride (GuHCl) as a partitioning inhibitor into the dispersed phase. Polyisobutylene (PIB) is added into the continuous phase as a viscosity modifier for suitable modification of interfacial polymerization kinetics. The combination of GuHCl and PIB is necessary to yield a robust emulsion with stable morphology for 3 weeks. Shell wall formation was accomplished by interfacial polymerization of isocyanates delivered through the continuous phase and polyamines from the droplet core. Diethylenetriamine (DETA)-loaded microcapsules were isolated in good yield, exhibiting high thermal and chemical stabilities with extended shelf-lives even when dispersed into a reactive epoxy resin. The polyamine phase is compatible with a variety of basic and hydrophilic actives, suggesting that this encapsulation technology is applicable to other hydrophilic payloads such as polyols, aromatic amines, and aromatic heterocyclic bases. Such payloads are important for the development of extended pot or shelf life systems and responsive coatings that report, protect, modify, and heal themselves without intervention.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry