Nanoparticles have shown promise in several biomedical applications, including drug delivery and medical imaging; however, quantitative prediction of nanoparticle formation processes that scale from laboratory to commercial production has been lacking. Flash NanoPrecipitation (FNP) is a scalable technique to form highly loaded, block copolymer protected nanoparticles. Here, the FNP process is shown to strictly obey diffusion-limited aggregation assembly kinetics, and the parameters that control the nanoparticle size and the polymer brush density on the nanoparticle surface are shown. The particle size, ranging from 40 to 200 nm, is insensitive to the molecular weight and chemical composition of the hydrophobic encapsulated material, which is shown to be a consequence of the diffusion-limited growth kinetics. In a simple model derived from these kinetics, a single constant describes the 46 unique nanoparticle formulations produced here. The polymer brush densities on the nanoparticle surface are weakly dependent on the process parameters and are among the densest reported in the literature. Though modest differences in brush densities are observed, there is no measurable difference in the amount of protein adsorbed within this range. This work highlights the material-independent and universal nature of the Flash NanoPrecipitation process, allowing for the rapid translation of formulations to different stabilizing polymers and therapeutic loads.
Keywords: Flash NanoPrecipitation; Nanoparticle; aggregation kinetics; block copolymer; drug delivery; polymer brush.