Infoscience

Thesis

Design of amphiphilic nanocapsules based on hyperbranched star-block copolymers for the encapsulation and the controlled release of olfactory compounds

Effective encapsulation of small, volatile, weakly water-soluble molecules such as flavors and fragrances is necessary to protect them from degradation, to increase their lifetime, and to improve their water dispersion and fixation depending on the substrate of interest. The aim of this project has been to improve encapsulation and release in order to optimize the performance of fragrance molecules in water-based household (detergents, softeners, etc.) and body care applications (shampoos, lotions, etc.), and fine perfumery applications. More specifically, the aim has been to investigate the effectiveness of "unimolecular micelles" based on amphiphilic multi-arm star-block copolymers with a hyperbranched core with more than 26 functional groups, a hydrophobic inner and a hydrophilic outer shell. These have been prepared from a commercial hyperbranched polyester macroinitiator (HBP) by ring-opening polymerization of ε-caprolactone, followed by the atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP) of tert-butyl acrylate (tBuA). Hydrolysis of the tert-butyl groups has then been used to convert the poly(tBuA) blocks to poly(acrylic acid) (PAA), resulting in HBP-(PCL)p-(PAA)q pH-dependent amphiphilic star-block copolymers with good control of the molecular weight distribution. These were shown to form stable nanocapsules with a well defined core-shell architecture, as confirmed by thermal and microstructural characterization. The necessity of the core-shell architecture for the effective encapsulation of fragrance molecules in aqueous dispersion has been demonstrated by NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance). The extent of encapsulation reflects the dynamic equilibrium between the free molecules and the fragrance/polymer complex and is dependent on the octanol/water partition coefficient (logP) of the fragrance compounds, as demonstrated with a similar non ionic core-shell architecture HBP-(PBMA)37-(PPEGMA)39 composed of a hydrophobic poly(butyl methacrylate) (PBMA) core and a hydrophilic poly(polyethylene glycol) methyl ether methacrylate (PPEGMA) shell (provided by the Polymer Laboratory of the EPFL). The fragrance loadings in the polymer (HBP-(PCL)p-(PAA)q and HBP-(PBMA)37-(PPEGMA)39), which reached up to 30 wt% depending on the type of the fragrance molecule, were argued to be linked to their solubility in the hydrophobic core of the star-block copolymer. Moreover, under conditions representative of real applications (fine perfumery and softener applications) the star-block copolymers significantly extended the time over which the concentration of certain volatiles remained above the human olfactory threshold. Effective encapsulation and delayed release of small hydrophobic molecules was hence demonstrated to be possible with the present systems. The straightforward synthesis, tailorable chemistry and globular architecture of the star-block copolymers investigated here therefore offer promise for the development of relatively cheap encapsulants with affinities for specific components in fragrance packages, and release triggered by selected substrates according to their surface chemistry.

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