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Defined polymer shells on nanoparticles via a continuous aerosol-based process

Defined polymer shells on nanoparticles via a continuous aerosol-based process

S. Sigmund, E. Akgün, J. Meyer, J. Hubbuch, M. Wörner, G. Kasper


Journal of Nanoparticle Research, 2014, DOI: 10.1007/s11051-014-2533-9

A continuous aerosol-based process is described for the encapsulation of nanoparticles with a thin polymer shell. The process is essentially based on directed binary collisions between gas-borne core particles and liquid monomer droplets carrying opposite electrical charges, followed by photo-initiated polymerization. Once the two streams are mixed together, the process runs to completion on a time scale of about 2 min or less, required for coagulation and polymerization. Gold, silica, and sodium chloride nanoparticles were successfully coated by this technique with PHDDA [poly(hexanediol diacrylate)] and/or crosslinked PMMA [poly(methyl methacrylate)]. It was found that all core materials as well as agglomerates were wettable at room temperature and that the spreading kinetics of the monomer were fast enough to cover the core particles uniformly within the time scale provided for coagulation. The shell thickness depends on the volume ratio between core particles and monomer droplets. This was demonstrated for a combination of monodisperse silica spheres (d =  241 nm) and polydisperse methyl methacrylate droplets, resulting in a theoretical shell thickness of 18 nm. There was very good agreement between measurements by TEM and electrical mobility spectroscopy. The results revealed that about 90 % or more of the core-shell structures were formed from 1:1 collisions between a core particle and a single monomer droplet.