Preparation of non-aqueous Pickering emulsions using anisotropic block copolymer nanoparticles

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Rizzelli, S.L. ; Jones, E.R. ; Thompson, K.L. ; Armes, S.P. (2015)
  • Publisher: Springer Verlag

In this work, we show that amphiphilic diblock copolymer worms prepared via alcoholic RAFT dispersion polymerization can be used to stabilize non-aqueous Pickering emulsions. A previously reported synthesis protocol based on polymerization-induced self-assembly (PISA) was modified to enable the preparation of poly(2-(dimethylamino)ethyl methacrylate)-poly(benzyl methacrylate) (PDMA-PBzMA) worm-like particles directly in methanol at relatively high solids. A dilute dispersion of these highly anisotropic nanoparticles was then homogenized with sunflower oil to produce sunflower oil-in-methanol emulsions. The mean droplet diameter ranged from 9 to 104 μm, depending on the nanoparticle concentration and the stirring rate used for homogenization. The sunflower oil content was increased systematically, with stable emulsions being obtained up to a volume fraction of 0.60. In all cases, the sunflower oil droplets gradually increase in size on ageing for up to 4 days. However, stable emulsions were obtained after this time period, with no further change in the mean droplet diameter for at least 2 months on standing at ambient temperature. Turbidimetry studies of the continuous phase after sedimentation of the relatively dense emulsion droplets indicated that the initial adsorption efficiency of the PDMA-PBzMA worms is very high, but this is reduced significantly as the droplet diameter gradually increases during ageing. There is a concomitant increase in fractional surface coverage over the same time period, suggesting that the increase in droplet diameter is the result of limited coalescence, rather than an Ostwald ripening mechanism.
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