Preparation and deep characterization of composite/hybrid multi-scale and multi-domain polymeric microparticles
Polymeric microparticles were produced following a three-step procedure involving (i) the production of an aqueous nanoemulsion of tri and monofunctional acrylate-based monomers droplets by an elongational-flow microemulsifier, (ii) the production of a nanosuspension upon the continuous-flow UV-initiated miniemulsion polymerization of the above nanoemulsion and (iii) the production of core-shell polymeric microparticles by means of a microfluidic capillaries-based double droplets generator; the core phase was composed of the above nanosuspension admixed with a water-soluble monomer and gold salt, the shell phase comprised a trifunctional monomer, diethylene glycol and a silver salt; both phases were photopolymerized on-the-fly upon droplet formation. Resulting microparticles were extensively analyzed by energy dispersive X-rays spectrometry and scanning electron microscopy to reveal the core-shell morphology, the presence of silver nanoparticles in the shell, organic nanoparticles in the core but failed to reveal the presence of the gold nanoparticles in the core presumably due to their too small size (c.a. 2.5 nm). Nevertheless, the reddish appearance of the as such prepared polymer microparticles emphasized that this three-step procedure allowed the easy elaboration of composite/hybrid multi-scale and multi-domain polymeric microparticles.