Facile production of biodegradable bipolymer patchy and patchy Janus particles with controlled morphology by microfluidic routes

Patchy and patchy Janus particles composed of poly(DL-lactic acid) (PLA) and polycaprolactone (PCL) regions were produced with a controlled size, patchiness, composition, and shape anisotropy by microfluidic emulsification and solvent evaporation. Isotropic particles composed of PCL patches embedded in the PLA matrix were produced from relatively small drops with a diameter of 14−25 μm because of the fast solvent extraction as a result of high interfacial area of the particles. Anisotropic patchy Janus particles were formed from large drops, 100−250 μm in diameter. A higher degree of polymer separation was achieved using a higher ratio of dichloromethane to ethyl acetate in the organic phase because of the more pronounced patch coarsening via Ostwald ripening. Janus particles with two fully separated polymer compartments were produced by in situ microfluidic mixing of two separate polymer streams within the formed droplets. The advantage of in situ micromixing is that the particle morphology can be changed continuously in a facile manner during drop generation by manipulating the organic stream flow rates. PCL and PLA domains within the particles were visualized by confocal laser scanning microscopy because of the preferential adsorption of rhodamine 6G dye onto PLA domains and higher binding affinity of Nile red toward PCL.