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Unique microstructures in Pickering poly-M/HIPES

Project Overview

Particle-stabilised emulsions or Pickering emulsions are thermodynamically stable as the particles are said to adsorb almost irreversibly at the oil/water interface. This translates to desirable savings on costly surfactants, making particles an advantageous choice as emulsifiers. In earlier work, we successfully synthesised macroporous polymers using medium and high internal phase emulsions (MIPE and HIPE) as templates, stabilised solely by low concentrations of functionalised carbon nanotubes, silica or titania nanoparticles. Polymerisation of the dispersed phase results in a poly-Pickering-H/MIPE. These macroporous polymers are closed-celled and have low permeabilities, contrasting them with the smaller, open-celled, interconnected and hence permeable structures of polyHIPEs prepared from surfactant-stabilised emulsion templates. To create highly permeable, open porous poly-Pickering-HIPEs, we realised the synergy between Pickering and traditional surfactant-stabilised HIPE templating in our experimental protocol. As a result, we were able to successfully produce open-celled macroporous Pickering polyHIPEs with enhanced permeability, opening doors to new industry applications. In line with this, my research focuses on the formation of new and unique micro-structures by reinventing current Pickering M/HIPE templating techniques. I aim to synthesise and study structures that demonstrate enhanced permeability, interconnectivity and improved mechanical strength sans a high dependency on surfactants. In addition, I expect to create unique micro-structures for pore-controlled chemical release. I believe that this would enhance the applicability of Pickering polyHIPEs as a smart encapsulation device for pharmaceutical formulations, with a strong influence on drug-release kinetics. A variety of polymer systems and functionalised particles and encapsulation methods will be tested, alongside a spectrum of characterisation techniques.

Researcher

Ling Ching Wong
PhD student

Supervisor: 
Prof. Alexander Bismarck

Sponsor:
EPSRC

 

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