Mastering a Double Emulsion in a Simple Co-Flow Microfluidic to Generate Complex Polymersomes

We show that the production and the geometrical shape of complex polymersomes can be predicted by varying the flow rates of a simple microdevice using an empirical law which predicts the droplet size. This device is constituted of fused silica capillaries associated with adjusted tubing sleeves and T-junctions.
Studying the effect of several experimental parameters, double emulsions containing a controlled number of droplets were fabricated. First, this study examines the stability of a jet in a simple confined microfluidic system, probing the conditions required for droplets production. Then, multicompartmental polymersomes were formed, controlling flow velocities. In this work, poly(dimethylsiloxane)-graft-poly(ethylene oxide) (PDMS-g-PEO) and poly(butadiene)-block-poly(ethyleneoxide) (PBut-b- PEO) amphiphilic copolymers were used and dissolved in chloroform/cyclohexane mixture. The ratio of these two solvents was adjusted in order to stabilize the double emulsion formation. The aqueous suspension contained poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA), limiting the coalescence of the droplets. This work constitutes major progress in the control of double emulsion formation in microfluidic devices and shows that complex structures can be obtained using such a process.

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