Amphiphilic crescent-moon-shaped microparticles formed by selective adsorption of colloids

J Am Chem Soc. 2011 Apr 13;133(14):5516-24. doi: 10.1021/ja200139w. Epub 2011 Mar 21.

Abstract

We use a microfluidic device to prepare monodisperse amphiphilic particles in the shape of a crescent-moon and use these particles to stabilize oil droplets in water. The microfluidic device is comprised of a tapered capillary in a theta (θ) shape that injects two oil phases into water in a single receiving capillary. One oil is a fluorocarbon, while the second is a photocurable monomer, which partially wets the first oil drop; silica colloids in the monomer migrate and adsorb to the interface with water but do not protrude into the oil interface. Upon UV-induced polymerization, solid particles with the shape of a crescent moon are formed; removal of fluorocarbon oil yields amphiphilic particles due to the selective adsorption of silica colloids. The resultant amphiphilic microparticles can be used to stabilize oil drops in a mixture of water and ethanol; if they are packed to sufficient surface density on the interface of the oil drop, they become immobilized, preventing direct contact between neighboring drops, thereby providing the stability.