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Controlling the vaterite CaCO3 crystal pores

Design of tailor-made polymer based microcapsules by hard templating
: Feoktistova, Natalia; Rose, Jürgen; Prokopovic, Vladimir Z.; Vikulina, Alina S.; Skirtach, Andre G.; Volodkin, Dmitry V.


Langmuir. The ACS journal of surfaces and colloids 32 (2016), No.17, pp.4229-4238
ISSN: 0743-7463
ISSN: 1520-5827
Journal Article
Fraunhofer IZI ()

The spherical vaterite CaCO3 microcrystals are nowadays widely used as sacrificial templates for fabrication of various microcarriers made of biopolymers (e.g., proteins, nucleic acids, enzymes) due to porous structure and mild template elimination conditions. Here, we demonstrated for the first time that polymer microcarriers with tuned internal nanoarchitecture can be designed by employing the CaCO3 crystals of controlled porosity. The layer-by-layer deposition has been utilized to assemble shell-like (hollow) and matrix-like (filled) polymer capsules due to restricted and free polymer diffusion through the crystal pores, respectively. The crystal pore size in the range of few tens of nanometers can be adjusted without any additives by variation of the crystal preparation temperature in the range 7-45 °C. The temperature-mediated growth mechanism is explained by the Ostwald ripening of nanocrystallites forming the crystal secondary structure. Various techniques including SEM, AFM, CLSM, Raman microscopy, nitrogen adsorption-desorption, and XRD have been employed for crystal and microcapsule analysis. A three-dimensional model is introduced to describe the crystal internal structure and predict the pore cutoff and available surface for the pore diffusing molecules. Inherent biocompatibility of CaCO3 and a possibility to scale the porosity in the size range of typical biomacromolecules make the CaCO3 crystals extremely attractive tools for template assisted designing tailor-made biopolymer-based architectures in 2D to 3D targeted at drug delivery and other bioapplications.