Lack of deep understanding of nanoparticle (NP) actions at oil/water interface set an obstacle to practical applications of Pickering emulsions. Fluorescence labels fabricated by incorporation of carbon dots (CDs) into poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAM) matrix can not only mark the action of PNIPAM-based NPs in the interface but also reflect the colloidal morphologies of PNIPAM. In this work, we employed coaxial electrospraying for fabricating core-shell nanospheres of cellulose acetate encapsulated by PNIPAM, and facile incorporation of CDs in PNIPAM shells was achieved simultaneously. The coaxial electrosprayed NPs (CENPs) with temperature-dependent wettability can stabilize heptane and toluene in water at 25 °C, respectively, and reversible emulsion break can be triggered by temperature adjustment around the low critical solution temperature (LCST). Remarkably, CENP/CD composites exhibited a fluorescence "on-off" behavior because of the volume phase transition of the PNIPAM shell. CENP/CD composites in Pickering emulsions clearly elucidated the motions of CENPs in response to temperature changes. At temperatures below the LCST, the CENP concentration played an important role in surface coverage of oil droplets. Specifically, the CENP concentration above the minimum concentration for complete emulsification of oil phase led to high surface coverage and two-domain adsorption of CENPs at the interface including primary monolayer anchoring of CENPs on droplets surrounded by interconnected CENP networks, which contributed to the superior stability of the emulsions. Moreover, CENP/CD composites can be recycled with well-preserved core-shell structure and stable fluorescent properties, which offers their great potential applications in sensors and imaging.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Materials Science(all)
- Condensed Matter Physics
- Surfaces and Interfaces