Long-term retention of small, volatile molecular species within metallic microcapsules

James P. Hitchcock, Alison L. Tasker, Elaine A. Baxter, Simon Biggs, Olivier J. Cayre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Encapsulation and full retention of small molecular weight active ingredients is a challenging task that remains unsolved by current technologies used in industry and academia. In particular, certain everyday product formulations provide difficult environments in which preventing active leakage through capsule walls is not feasible. For example, a continuous phase that can fully dissolve an encapsulated active will typically force full release over a fraction of the intended lifetime of a product. This is due to the inherent porosity of polymeric membranes typically used as capsule wall material in current technologies. In this study, we demonstrate a method for preventing undesired loss of encapsulated actives under these extreme conditions using a simple threestep process. Our developed methodology, which forms an impermeable metal film around polymer microcapsules, prevents loss of small, volatile oils within an ethanol continuous phase for at least 21 days while polymeric capsules lose their entire content in less than 30 min under the same conditions. Polymer shell-oil core microcapsules are produced using a well-known cosolvent extraction method to precipitate a polymeric shell around the oil core. Subsequently, metallic catalytic nanoparticles are physically adsorbed onto the microcapsule polymeric shells. Finally, this nanoparticle coating is used to catalyze the growth of a secondary metallic film. Specifically, this work shows that it is possible to coat polymeric microcapsules containing a model oil system or a typical fragrance oil with a continuous metal shell. It also shows that the coverage of nanoparticles on the capsule surface can be controlled, which is paramount for obtaining a continuous impermeable metal film. In addition, control over the metal shell thickness is demonstrated without altering the capability of the metal film to retain the encapsulated oils.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14808-14815
Number of pages8
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number27
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2015
Externally publishedYes


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