Microscale fish bowls, hollow particles with engineered holes in their surfaces, were prepared using two different methods. In the first method, commercial latex beads suspended in water were swollen with a good solvent of the polymer, followed by freezing with liquid nitrogen and evaporation of the solvent below 0°C. While one big hole was generated when the amount of solvent used for the swelling was relatively low, small holes could be produced in the outer surface of each bowl by increasing the degree of swelling. The porosity and pore structure show a similar dependence on the degree of swelling for both amorphous and semicrystalline polymers even though they are supposed to exhibit different phase behaviors during the freezing and solvent evaporation processes. In the second method, a polymer emulsion in water was prepared and then frozen with liquid nitrogen, followed by solvent evaporation below 0°C. The porosity and pore structure could be controlled by adjusting the concentration of the polymer solution used to prepare the emulsion. As for encapsulation, the bowl-shaped particles could be transformed back into solid beads via thermal annealing at a temperature near the glass transition temperature of the polymer or by adding a good solvent of the polymer to the colloidal suspension. In a proof-of-concept experiment, microscale fish bowls were fabricated from poly(caprolactone), quickly loaded with a fluorescent dye, and sealed through thermal annealing. The encapsulated dye could then be slowly released in a phosphate buffered saline, suggesting their potential use as a new class of microscale capsules for drug delivery.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Materials Science(all)
- Condensed Matter Physics
- Surfaces and Interfaces