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Nanostructures, faceting, and splitting in nano- to yocto-liter liquid droplets.

08:00 EDT 15th April 2019 | BioPortfolio

Summary of "Nanostructures, faceting, and splitting in nano- to yocto-liter liquid droplets."

Contrary to everyday experience, where all liquid droplets assume rounded, near-spherical shapes, the temperature-tuning of liquid droplets to faceted polyhedral shapes, and to spontaneous splitting, has been recently demonstrated in oil-in-water emulsions. However, the elucidation of the mechanism driving these surprising effects, as well as their many potential applications, ranging from faceted nanoparticle synthesis, through new industrial emulsification routes, to controlled-release drug delivery within the human body, have been severely hampered by the micron-scale resolution of the light microscopy employed to date in all in situ studies. Thus, the thickness of the interfacially-frozen crystalline monolayer, suggested to drive these effects, could not be directly measured, and the low limit on the droplet size still showing these effects remained unknown. In this study, we employ a combination of super-resolution STED (stimulated emission depletion) microscopy, CryoTEM (transmission electron microscopy), and FF (freeze-fracture) methods, to study these effects well into the nanometer length scale. We demonstrate the occurrence of the faceting transition in droplets spanning an incredible 12 decades in volume, from nano- to yoctoliters, and directly visualize the interfacially-frozen, few-nanometer-thick, crystalline monolayer suggested to drive these effects. Furthermore, our measurements allow placing an upper-limit estimate on the two-dimensional Young modulus of the interfacial nanometer-thick surface crystal in the smallest droplets, providing an insight into the virtually-unexplored domain of nanoelasticity.

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This article was published in the following journal.

Name: Nano letters
ISSN: 1530-6992
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