Synthesis and characterization of graphene oxide-polystyrene composite capsules with aqueous cargo via a water-oil-water multiple emulsion templating route

Muthana Ali, Thomas M. McCoy, Ian R. McKinnon, Mainak Majumder, Rico F. Tabor

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20 Citations (Scopus)


Graphene oxide/polystyrene (GO/PS) nanocomposite capsules containing a two-compartment cargo have been successfully fabricated using a Pickering emulsion strategy. Highly purified GO sheets with typically micrometer-scale lateral dimensions and amphiphilic characteristics were prepared from the oxidation reaction of graphite with concomitant exfoliation of the graphite structure. These GO sheets were employed as a stabilizer for oil-in-water emulsions where the oil phase comprised toluene or olive oil. The stability and morphology of the emulsions were extensively studied as a function of different parameters including GO concentration, aqueous phase pH, ultrasonication time, effects of added electrolytes and stability to dilution. In selected conditions, the olive oil emulsions showed spontaneous formation of multiple w/o/w emulsions with high stability, whereas toluene formed simple o/w emulsions of lower overall stability. Olive oil emulsions were therefore used to prepare capsules templated from emulsion droplets by surrounding the oil phase with a GO/PS shell. The GO sheets, emulsions and composite capsules were characterized using a variety of physical and spectroscopic techniques in order to unravel the interactions responsible for capsule formation. The ability of the capsules to control the release of a model active agent in the form of a hydrophilic dye was explored, and release kinetics were monitored using UV-visible spectroscopy to obtain rate parameters. The composite capsules showed promising sustained release properties, with release rates 11× lower than the precursor GO-stabilized multiple emulsion droplets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18187-18198
Number of pages12
JournalACS Applied Materials & Interfaces
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2017


  • composite capsules
  • emulsion templating
  • encapsulation
  • graphene oxide
  • multiple emulsions
  • Pickering emulsions
  • release kinetics

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