A team of researchers from Purdue and Harvard universities have developed a technique that can produce a variety of microgel particles able to perform different tasks.
Nano and microparticles have been designed for biomedical applications and each one is uniquely engineered for a specific task. The unique abilities depend on the texture of particles, the different materials and manufacturing processes it undergoes.
A microfluidic device brings the microgels together that are made of poly NIPAAm polymers and sodium alginate.
Droplets of this compound are deposited into a mixture of glycerol and barium acetate. As the barium acetate transforms the droplets into a gel with new chemical bonds holding it together, the glycerol actually forces the droplets to deform and take on different shapes.
The concentration of glycerol within the mixture affects the shape that the resulting microgels take on, as well as their texture, and properties such as transparency and surface color.
These compounds are called Janus particles, due to their dual nature. It can lead to new drug delivery solutions used in tissue engineering. Embedding them with magnetic nanoparticles can lead to highly targeted delivery vehicles that are controlled externally using a magnet.