Facile synthesis of self-healing microcapsules

Conference Dates

April 3-7, 2016


In nature biological materials self-heal and adapt repeatedly to stresses caused by the environment. So far, major efforts have been made to create engineered microcapsules that can, upon rupturing, release a healing agent. To mimic the dynamic biological function, we create functional microcapsules that release self-healing agents, but may also themselves be healed, allowing for multiple release events. Currently there are many limitations in synthesizing microcapsules with self-healing hydrogel shells. We address these challenges with a facile strategy for synthesizing monodisperse hydrogel microcapsules by the deprotection and aqueous solubilization of an initially water-insoluble polymer shell. We use a microfluidic approach to produce w/o/w emulsions as a template for microcapsules [1], where the monomer is in the oil phase. Using such a technique one can prepare poly(acrylic acid) shell microcapsules by the deprotection of a poly(tert-butyl acrylate) shell microcapsule through hydrolysis [2]. Hydrophobic comonomers and water insoluble interpenetrating polymers may be included with the tert-butyl acrylate monomer in order to form microcapsules with self-healing shell materials such as semi-interpenetrating hydrogels or hydrophobic association hydrogels [3,4]. To stabilize self-healing microcapsules we used particle armoring as self-healing hydrogels posses sticky surfaces and tend to aggregate [5]. With this work we demonstrate an easy approach to produce microcapsules with self-healing shells. These capsules will open up the possibility of repeated release from microcapsules, taking a step closer to reproducing self-healing processes seen in nature.

[1] Utada, A. S.; Lorenceau, E.; Link, D. R.; Kaplan, P. D.; Stone, H. A.; Weitz, D. A. Science 2005, 308, 537–541.

[2] Heise, A.; Hedrick, J. L.; Trollsås, M.; Miller, R. D. … 1999.

[3] Hou, C.; Huang, T.; Wang, H.; Yu, H.; Zhang, Q.; Li, Y. Sci Rep 2013, 3, 3138.

[4] Jiang, G.; Liu, C.; Liu, X.; Chen, Q.; Zhang, G.; Yang, M.; Liu, F. Polymer 2010.

[5] Chen, R.; Pearce, D. J. G.; Fortuna, S.; Cheung, D. L.; Bon, S. A. F. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2011, 133, 2151–2153.

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