Controlling Nanoemulsion Surface Chemistry with Poly(2-Oxazoline) Amphiphiles

Emulsions are dynamic materials that have been extensively employed within pharmaceutical, food and cosmetics industries. However, their use beyond conventional applications has been hindered by difficulties in surface functionalization, and an inability to selectively control physicochemical properties. Here, we employ custom poly(2-oxazoline) block copolymers to overcome these limitations. We demonstrate that poly(2-oxazoline) copolymers can effectively stabilize nanoscale droplets of hydrocarbon and perfluorocarbon in water. The living polymerization allows for the incorporation of chemical handles into the surfactants such that covalent modification of the emulsion surfaces can be performed. Through post-emulsion modification, we are able to access nanoemulsions with modified surface chemistries, yet consistent sizes. By decoupling size and surface charge, we explore structure-activity relationships involving the cellular uptake of nanoemulsions.