Complex Polymer Nanoparticle Synthesis and Morphology Control Using an Inkjet Mixing System

Significance 

Complex polymer nanoparticles are a type of nanotechnology that involves the creation of polymer particles with complex structures, shapes, and functions at the nanoscale. One of the key considerations in designing complex polymer nanoparticles is the selection of appropriate polymers. The choice of polymers depends on the desired properties of the nanoparticles such as size, shape, stability, and surface chemistry. Some commonly used polymers for nanoparticle synthesis include polyethylene glycol (PEG), polylactic acid (PLA), and poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA). Various techniques such as emulsion, solvent evaporation, and nanoprecipitation can be used to synthesize complex polymer nanoparticles. The choice of method depends on the type of polymer, the desired nanoparticle size, and the intended application. Complex polymer nanoparticles have a wide range of potential uses in areas such as drug delivery, imaging, and sensing. For example, they can be designed to target specific cells or tissues in the body, improving drug efficacy and reducing side effects. They can also be engineered to release drugs in response to specific stimuli such as pH, temperature, or light.

Janus polymer nanoparticles are a specific type of complex polymer nanoparticle that have two distinct hemispheres or regions, each with different chemical or physical properties. These nanoparticles are named after the two-faced Roman god Janus, who had two faces, one looking to the past and one looking to the future. The two hemispheres of Janus polymer nanoparticles can be made of different polymers, which can have different chemical or physical properties such as hydrophilicity, hydrophobicity, charge, or responsiveness to stimuli. This allows the nanoparticles to have unique properties such as amphiphilicity, which makes them suitable for a wide range of applications. Janus polymer nanoparticles can be synthesized using various methods such as emulsion, microfluidics, or self-assembly. One of the most commonly used methods involves using a template to create a polymer shell with one hemisphere, followed by the removal of the template and the addition of a second polymer to create the other hemisphere. Janus polymer nanoparticles have potential applications in a variety of fields such as drug delivery, imaging, and sensing. For example, they can be designed to selectively target specific cells or tissues in the body, improve drug efficacy, and reduce toxicity. They can also be engineered to respond to external stimuli such as pH, temperature, or light, which makes them suitable for use in smart drug delivery systems.

The synthesis of complex polymer nanoparticles is usually achieved by using multiple steps or processes that involve different techniques or conditions. Janus particles can be synthesized by using phase separation methods or surface modification methods. However, these methods are often complicated, time-consuming, costly, or difficult to control. Therefore, there is a need for developing simple and efficient methods for synthesizing complex polymer nanoparticles with controllable morphology and functionality. One possible method is to use an inkjet mixing system, which is a device that can rapidly mix two solutions by colliding them at high speed and with precise control of the impact parameter. The inkjet mixing system can create a fine dispersion of droplets that can undergo antisolvent precipitation to form nanoparticles. However, the synthesis of complex polymer nanoparticles using an inkjet mixing system has not been extensively studied.

In a new study published in the peer-reviewed Journal Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, Dr. Taisuke Maki, Dr. Yosuke Muranaka, Saki Takeda and Dr. Kazuhiro Mae from Kyoto University reported a novel method for synthesizing complex polymer nanoparticles with different morphologies using an inkjet mixing system.  The authors hypothesized that complex polymer nanoparticles with different morphologies can be synthesized via a one-step antisolvent precipitation method using an inkjet mixing system. The authors hypothesized that by changing the collision speed, impact parameter, and solution concentration, they could control the diffusion and stabilization rate of the polymer molecules in the antisolvent, and thus affect the shape and size of the resulting nanoparticles. They also hypothesized that by changing the mixing ratio of solvents and antisolvents, they could create Janus polymer nanoparticles, which are particles with two different phases.

The research team investigated in detail how various parameters of the inkjet mixing system and the polymer solutions affected the product profiles of the complex polymer nanoparticles. They found that the collision speed of the jets influenced the particle size, with higher speeds resulting in smaller particles. They also found that the impact parameter influenced the particle shape, with smaller parameters resulting in more spherical particles and larger parameters resulting in more elongated or irregular particles. Moreover, they found that the solution concentration of the polymer influenced both the particle size and shape, with higher concentrations resulting in larger and more irregular particles. The authors also explored how the mixing ratio of solvents and antisolvents affected the phase separation of the complex polymer nanoparticles. The authors found that by increasing the ratio of antisolvents to solvents, they could create more distinct phases or Janus particles, which are particles with two different faces or phases. They also found that the concentration of the polymers affected the phase separation and morphology of the complex polymer nanoparticles, as different polymers had different solubility and compatibility in the solvents and antisolvents. The authors successfully synthesized Janus polymer nanoparticles with two different polymers (polystyrene and poly(methyl methacrylate)) by using appropriate combinations of collision speed, impact parameter, solution concentration, and mixing ratio. They characterized the complex polymer nanoparticles to understand their properties and behavior by using various advanced techniques, such as scanning electron microscopy and transmission electron microscopy which gave information about nanoparticle size and shape. They found that the complex polymer nanoparticle morphology was mainly determined by the balance between the diffusion rate and the stabilization rate of the polymer molecules in the antisolvent, which depended on the parameters mentioned above.

In summary, the authors demonstrated that their inkjet mixing system was a versatile and efficient method for synthesizing complex polymer nanoparticles with controllable shape, size, phase, and functionality. The development of new synthesis methods and polymers will continue to advance this field and open up new possibilities for engineering Janus polymer nanoparticles with tailored properties and functions. They suggested that their method could be applied to other types of polymers or materials to create novel nanostructures for various purposes.

Reference

Maki T, Muranaka Y, Takeda S, Mae K. Complex Polymer Nanoparticle Synthesis and Morphology Control Using an Inkjet Mixing System. Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research. 2023 Jan 5.

Go To Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research.

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