Tunable functionalization of nano-emulsions using amphiphilic polymers

Soft Matter. 2021 Feb 21;17(7):1788-1795. doi: 10.1039/d0sm01952f. Epub 2021 Jan 5.


Nano-emulsions are defined as stable oil droplets sizing below 300 nm. Their singular particularity lies in the loading capabilities of their oily core, much higher than other kinds of carrier. On the other hand, functionalizing the dynamic oil/water interface, to date, has remained a challenge. To ensure the best anchoring of the reactive functions onto the surface of the droplets, we have designed specific amphiphilic polymers (APs) based on poly(maleic anhydride-alt-1-octadecene), stabilizing the nano-emulsions instead of surfactants. Aliphatic C18 chains of the APs are anchored in the droplet core, while the hydrophilic parts of the APs are poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) chains. In addition, PEG chains are terminated with reactive (i) azide functions in order to prove the concept of the droplet decoration with clickable rhodamine (Rh-DBCO, specifically synthesized for this study), or (ii) biotin functions to verify the potential droplet functionalization with fluorescent streptavidin (streptavidin-AF-488). This study describes AP synthesis, physico-chemical characterization of the functional droplets (electron microscopy), and finally fluorescence labeling and droplet decoration. To conclude, these APs constitute an interesting solution for the stable functionalization of nano-emulsion droplets, paving a new way for the applications of nano-emulsions in targeting drug delivery.

MeSH terms

  • Emulsions
  • Hydrophobic and Hydrophilic Interactions
  • Polyethylene Glycols
  • Polymers*
  • Surface-Active Agents*


  • Emulsions
  • Polymers
  • Surface-Active Agents
  • Polyethylene Glycols