Redox-Controlled Molecular Permeability of Composite-Wall Microcapsules

Y. Ma, Wen-Fei Dong, Mark A. Hempenius, Helmuth Möhwald, Gyula J. Vancso

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Many smart materials in bioengineering, nanotechnology and medicine allow the storage and release of encapsulated drugs on demand at a specific location by an external stimulus. Owing to their versatility in material selection, polyelectrolyte multilayers are very promising systems in the development of microencapsulation technologies with permeation control1, 2, 3, 4 governed by variations in the environmental conditions5, 6, 7, 8. Here, organometallic polyelectrolyte multilayer capsules, composed of polyanions and polycations of poly(ferrocenylsilane) (PFS), are introduced. Their preparation involved layer-by-layer self-assembly onto colloidal templates followed by core removal. PFS polyelectrolytes feature redox-active ferrocene units in the main chain. Incorporation of PFS into the capsule walls allowed us to explore the effects of a new stimulus, that is, changing the redox state9, 10, on capsule wall permeability. The permeability of these capsules could be sensitively tuned via chemical oxidation, resulting in a fast capsule expansion accompanied by a drastic permeability increase in response to a very small trigger. The substantial swelling could be suppressed by the application of an additional coating bearing common redox-inert species of poly(styrene sulfonate) (PSS-) and poly(allylamine hydrochloride) (PAH+) on the outer wall of the capsules. Hence, we obtained a unique capsule system with redox-controlled permeability and swellability with a high application potential in materials as well as in bioscience.
Original languageUndefined
Pages (from-to)724-729
Number of pages6
JournalNature materials
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • METIS-232473
  • IR-74126

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