Control over the shell thickness of core/shell drops in three-phase glass capillary devices

Monodisperse core/shell drops with aqueous core and poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS) shell of controllable thickness have been produced using a glass microcapillary device that combines co-flow and flow-focusing geometries. The throughput of the droplet generation was high, with droplet generation frequency in the range from 1,000 to 10,000 Hz. The size of the droplets can be tuned by changing the flow rate of the continuous phase. The technique enables control over the shell thickness through adjusting the flow rate ratio of the middle to inner phase. As the flow rate of the middle and inner phase increases, the droplet breakup occurs in the dripping-to-jetting transition regime, with each double emulsion droplet containing two monodisperse internal aqueous droplets. The resultant drops can be used subsequently as templates for monodisperse polymer capsules with a single or multiple inner compartments, as well as functional vesicles such as liposomes, polymersomes and colloidosomes.