Encapsulation of Emulsion Droplets with Metal Shells for Subsequent Remote, Triggered Release

Kirsty Stark, James P. Hitchcock, Assim Fiaz, Alison L. White, Elaine A. Baxter, Simon Biggs, James R. McLaughlan, Steven Freear, Olivier J. Cayre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
39 Downloads (Pure)


A two-step method to encapsulate an oil core with an impermeable shell has been developed. A thin metallic shell is deposited on the surface of emulsion droplets stabilized by metal nanoparticles. This thin shell is shown to prevent diffusion of the oil from within the core of the metal shell microcapsules when placed in a continuous phase that fully dissolves the oil. The stabilizing nanoparticles are sterically stabilized by poly(vinyl pyrrolidone) chains and are here used as a catalyst/nucleation site at the oil water interface to grow a secondary metal shell on the emulsion droplets via an electroless deposition process. This method provides the simplest scalable route yet to synthesize impermeable microcapsules with the added benefit that the final structure allows for drastically improving the overall volume of the encapsulated core to, in this case, > 99% of the total volume. This method also allows for very good control over the microcapsule properties, and here we demonstrate our ability to tailor the final microcapsule density, capsule diameter, and secondary metal film thickness. Importantly, we also demonstrate that such impermeable microcapsule metal shells can be remotely fractured using ultrasound-based devices that are commensurate with technologies currently used in medical applications, which demonstrate the possibility to adapt these microcapsules for the delivery of cytotoxic drugs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12272-12282
Number of pages11
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2019


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