Armored Droplets as Soft Nanocarriers for Encapsulation and Release under Flow Conditions
F Sicard and J Toro-Mendoza, ACS NANO, 15, 11406-11416 (2021).
Technical challenges in precision medicine and environmental remediation create an increasing demand for smart materials that can select and deliver a probe load to targets with high precision. In this context, soft nanomaterials have attracted considerable attention due to their ability to simultaneously adapt their morphology and functionality to complex ambients. Two major challenges are to precisely control this adaptability under dynamic conditions and provide predesigned functionalities that can be manipulated by external stimuli. Here, we report on the computational design of a distinctive class of soft nanocarriers, built from armored nanodroplets, able to selectively encapsulate or release a probe load under specific flow conditions. First, we describe in detail the mechanisms at play in the formation of pocket-like structures in armored nanodroplets and their stability under external flow. Then we use that knowledge to test the capacity of these pockets to yield flow-assisted encapsulation or expulsion of a probe load. Finally, the rheological properties of these nanocarriers are put into perspective with those of delivery systems employed in pharmaceutical and cosmetic technology.
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