Vishnu Sresht1, Lauren D. Zarzar2, Ellen M. Sletten2, Julia A. Kalow2, Timothy M. Swager2,
1Department of Chemical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA
2Department of Chemistry and Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA
Session: ENGINEERING SCIENCES AND FUNDAMENTALS, 01C20 Anisotropic Particles: Synthesis, Characterization, Modeling, Assembly, and Applications I
Emulsification is a powerful age-old technique for mixing and dispersing immiscible components within a continuous liquid phase. Consequently, emulsions are central components of medicine, food, and performance materials. Complex emulsions, including multiple emulsions and Janus droplets, are of increasing importance in pharmaceuticals and medical diagnostics, in the fabrication of microparticles and capsules for food, in chemical separations, for cosmetics, and for dynamic optics. As complex emulsion properties and functions are related to the droplet geometry and composition, the development of rapid and facile fabrication approaches allowing precise control over the droplets' physical and chemical characteristics is critical. Significant advances in the fabrication of complex emulsions have been accomplished by a number of procedures, ranging from large-scale less precise techniques that give compositional heterogeneity using high-shear mixers and membranes to small-volume microfluidic methods. However, such approaches have yet to create droplet morphologies that can be controllably altered after emulsification. Reconfigurable complex liquids potentially have greatly expanded utility as dynamically tunable materials.
Using theories of interfacial energetics, we have modeled the interplay between interfacial tensions during the one-step fabrication of three- and four-phase complex emulsions displaying highly controllable and reconfigurable morphologies. The fabrication makes use of the temperature-sensitive miscibility of hydrocarbon, silicone, and fluorocarbon liquids and is applied to both microfluidic and scalable batch production of complex droplets. We demonstrate that droplet geometries can be alternated between encapsulated and Janus configurations via variations in interfacial tensions as controlled with hydrocarbon and fluorinated surfactants including stimuli-responsive and cleavable surfactants. Therefore, we have discovered a generalizable strategy for the fabrication of multiphase emulsions with controllably reconfigurable morphologies to create a diversity of responsive materials.
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