Designing Semipermeable Hydrogel Shells with Controlled Thickness through Internal Osmosis in Triple-Emulsion Droplets

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Hydrogel shells that compartmentalize the water core from the aqueous surrounding provide molecular selectivity on size and charge in transmembrane transport. It is highly demanding to produce thin hydrogel shells to minimize diffusion length and maximize core volume. Here, internal osmosis in water-in-oil-in-water-in-oil (W/O/W/O) triple-emulsion droplets is used to produce thin hydrogel shells enclosing a large water core. The triple-emulsion droplets are prepared to have an ultrathin middle oil layer using a capillary microfluidic device. The innermost water droplet has a higher osmolarity than the outer water layer containing photopolymerizable hydrogel precursors, which pumps water from the outer layer to the core through the ultrathin oil layer by the osmosis. Therefore, the outer layer gets thinner and hydrogel precursors are enriched while the size of the triple-emulsion droplets remains unchanged. Through photopolymerization of precursors and phase transfer from oil to water, hydrogel shells enclosing water core are produced in the water environment; the oil layer is ruptured for molecular exchange through the shells. The thickness and composition of the hydrogel shells are precisely controllable by the osmotic conditions. The shells show a high permeation rate due to the thinness as well as controlled cut-off threshold of permeation for neutral and charged molecules.
Publisher
WILEY-V C H VERLAG GMBH
Issue Date
2021-10
Language
English
Article Type
Article
Citation

ADVANCED FUNCTIONAL MATERIALS, v.31, no.42, pp.2105477

ISSN
1616-301X
DOI
10.1002/adfm.202105477
URI
http://hdl.handle.net/10203/288295
Appears in Collection
CBE-Journal Papers(저널논문)
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