Nanoemulsion organohydrogels: a new platform for soft nanocomposites

M.E. Helgeson
UC Santa Barbara, US

Keywords: nanoemulsion, organohydrogel, soft nanocomposites


Emerging medical and consumer applications have identified a need for nanostructured materials capable of simultaneous controlled storage and release of both hydrophilic and lipophilic active compounds. We have developed materials to suit these needs based on “organohydrogels” from oil-in-water nanoemulsions containing a polymeric gelator in the continuous phase. In suspension, these nanoemulsions exhibit robust, reversible formation of colloidal gels with remarkably solid-like viscoelasticity from a purely liquid system. Detailed structural interrogation reveals that this gelation arises from a hierarchical self-assembly process in which thermoresponsiveness of the gelator informs the formation of a mesoporous percolated network of droplets. Furthermore, the use of crosslinkable gelators leads to a new class of hydrogel-emulsion nanocomposites, which can be photo-patterned into highly structured polymer colloids with novel encapsulation and release properties. This presentation will highlight how a bottom-up understanding of these fascinating materials can be leveraged to achieve new and highly orthogonal functionalities compared to traditional hydrogels and organogels for uses ranging from advanced pharmaceuticals to smart materials.