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Langmuir. 2008 Jun 1;24(13):6937-45. doi: 10.1021/la703339u. Epub 2008 May 30.

Biopolymer microparticle and nanoparticle formation within a microfluidic device.

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1
The Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, The University of Queensland, Queensland 4072, Australia.

Abstract

This paper reports a novel microfluidic method for the production of cross-linked alginate microparticles and nanoparticles. We describe a continuous process relying on both thermodynamic and hydrodynamic factors to form microdroplets. A rapid cross-linking reaction thereafter allows solidification of the polymer droplets either within the microfluidic device or "off-chip" to form alginate micro- and nanoparticles. Monodisperse droplets are generated by extruding an aqueous alginate solution using an axisymmetric flow-focusing design. As they flow downstream in the channel, due to water and the continuous phase being partially miscible, the water diffuses very slowly out of the polymeric droplets into the transport fluid, which causes the shrinkage of the drops and the condensation of the polymer phase. The resulting size of the solid particles depends on the polymer concentration and the ensuing balance between the kinetics of the cross-linking reaction and the volume loss due to solvent diffusion. This work details both a single-step microfluidic technique for the formation of alginate microparticles of sizes ranging from 1 to 50 microm via near-equilibrium solvent diffusion within a microfluidic device and thereafter a two-step method, which was shown to generate biopolymer nanoparticles of sizes ranging from 10 to 300 nm. These novel methodologies are extremely flexible and can be extended to the preparation of micro- and nanoparticles from a wide range of single or mixed synthetic and biologically derived polymers.

PMID:
18510374
DOI:
10.1021/la703339u
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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