Encapsulation is a powerful method for the targeted delivery of concentrated reagents and capture of valuable materials in dilute systems. To this end, many encapsulation schemes for specific scenarios have been devised that incorporate chemospecificity or stimulus response in terms of uptake or release. However, an encapsulation platform that enables highly tailorable surface chemistry for targeting, stimulus response, and core chemistry for capture and release of reagents remains elusive. Here, we present such a system comprising composite core-shell capsule particles of hydrophilic polymers coated with thin silica layers synthesized via straightforward one-pot syntheses. Silica is found to encapsulate a range of polymer hydrogels through a mechanism independent of the specific core chemistry. The hybrid materials possess significantly enhanced rigidity while allowing surface modification through simple yet versatile silane coupling reactions without a reduction in the functionality of the core. They are shown to have applications as diverse as recyclable catalysis and controlled delivery vehicles for agrochemicals. The successful synthesis and utilization of this catalog of materials indicate the broader capability of simple composite structures in an array of high-value applications.
- hybrid materials