Nanoparticle-based membrane assembly and silicification in coacervate microdroplets as a route to complex colloidosomes

James Fothergill, Mei Li, Sean A. Davis, John A. Cunningham, Stephen Mann*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


The chemical construction of complex colloidosomes consisting of a molecularly crowded polyelectrolyteenriched interior surrounded by a continuous shell of closely packed silica nanoparticles is studied using optical and fluorescence microscopy, high-resolution X-ray microcomputed tomography, and synchrotron radiation X-ray tomographic microscopy. The colloidosomes are prepared by addition of partially hydrophobic silica nanoparticles to dodecane dispersions of positively or negatively charged coacervate microdroplets consisting of aqueous mixtures of poly(diallyldimethylammonium chloride) (PDDA) and adenosine 5'-triphosphate (ATP) or PDDA and poly(acrylic acid) (PAA), respectively. Interfacial assembly of the nanoparticles produces a polydisperse population of well-defined PDDA/PAA droplets with diameters ranging from 50 to 950 μm. In contrast, reconstruction of the PDDA/ATP coacervate interior occurs on addition of the silica nanoparticles to produce a nanoparticle-stabilized oil-in-coacervate-in-oil multiphase emulsion. Transfer of the coacervate-containing colloidosomes into water and replication of their internal structure are achieved by addition of tetramethoxysilane, which serves as both a cross-linking and silicification agent to produce mineralized PDDA/PAA or PDDA/ATP microstructures with a uniform solidified texture or multichambered interior, respectively. The integration of colloidosome and coacervate technologies offers a route to a new type of multifunctional microcompartmentalized system based on the membrane-mediated incarceration of molecularly crowded chemical environments. (Figure Presented).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14591-14596
Number of pages6
Issue number48
Publication statusPublished - 9 Dec 2014


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