Examining the Roles of Emulsion Droplet Size and Surfactant in the Interfacial Instability-Based Fabrication Process of Micellar Nanocrystals

Yuxiang Sun, Ling Mei, Ning Han, Xinyi Ding, Caihao Yu, Wenjuan Yang, Gang Ruan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The interfacial instability process is an emerging general method to fabricate nanocrystal-encapsulated micelles (also called micellar nanocrystals) for biological detection, imaging, and therapy. The present work utilized fluorescent semiconductor nanocrystals (quantum dots or QDs) as the model nanocrystals to investigate the interfacial instability-based fabrication process of nanocrystal-encapsulated micelles. Our experimental results suggest intricate and intertwined roles of the emulsion droplet size and the surfactant poly (vinyl alcohol) (PVA) used in the fabrication process of QD-encapsulated poly (styrene-b-ethylene glycol) (PS-PEG) micelles. When no PVA is used, no emulsion droplet and thus no micelle is successfully formed; Emulsion droplets with large sizes (~25 μm) result in two types of QD-encapsulated micelles, one of which is colloidally stable QD-encapsulated PS-PEG micelles while the other of which is colloidally unstable QD-encapsulated PVA micelles; In contrast, emulsion droplets with small sizes (~3 μm or smaller) result in only colloidally stable QD-encapsulated PS-PEG micelles. The results obtained in this work not only help to optimize the quality of nanocrystal-encapsulated micelles prepared by the interfacial instability method for biological applications but also offer helpful new knowledge on the interfacial instability process in particular and self-assembly in general.

Original languageEnglish
Article number434
JournalNanoscale Research Letters
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Biological imaging
  • Cell separation
  • Interfacial instability
  • Magnetic nanoparticle
  • Microencapsulation
  • Nanoparticle
  • Quantum dot
  • Self-assembly

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