Bioinspired Robust All-Aqueous Droplet via Diffusion-Controlled Interfacial Coacervation

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Article number2004166
Journal / PublicationAdvanced Functional Materials
Issue number49
Online published9 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020


All-aqueous droplets demand structural and functional robustness to provide tailored microenvironments for various biomedical applications. Inspired by the structural supporting properties of eggshell membranes, all-aqueous droplets with robust shells featuring optical transparence, compound permeability, and swelling resistance are developed. The dense coacervate shell encapsulates sodium alginate (Alg) droplets in a continuous ε-poly-l-lysine (ε-PL) solution, via diffusion-controlled interfacial coacervation between Alg and ε-PL. Benefiting from the permeability of the coacervate shell, the core of the droplet presents embryo-like stiffness-responsiveness between the fluid and gel states via the perception of external microenvironment. Particularly, in a benchmarking comparison with Alg-Ca2+ hydrogel, the coacervate encapsulation presents boosted durability, mechanical robustness, and selective permeability in diverse conditions. This design strategy not only deepens the understanding on the design of all-aqueous droplets with adaptive functions via one-step interfacial coacervation between two miscible aqueous phases, but also broadens their feasibility as integrated platforms for biomedical applications.

Research Area(s)

  • all-aqueous droplets, bioinspired, coacervate, interfaces, supramolecular assemblies