Rodney Priestley: A fast and easy method for making Janus nanoparticles

Wednesday, Sep 21, 2016

Invention A fast and easy method for making Janus nanoparticles

Inventor Rodney Priestley, associate professor of chemical and biological engineering

What it does Like the two-faced Roman god for which they are named, Janus particles have on their surfaces two physically distinct regions with different functions. For example, Janus particles may be hydrophobic on one side and hydrophilic on the other. Such characteristics can enable new capabilities in drug delivery, medical imaging, electronic displays and sensors, and as surfactants in personal-care products.

Priestley and collaborator Robert Prud’homme, professor of chemical and biological engineering, have developed a method for the rapid and easy manufacture of nanoscale polymer Janus particles. The method harnesses a technique developed by Prud’homme and colleagues called Flash NanoPrecipitation.

The system involves rapidly mixing two polymers, one for each of the two regions of the Janus particle, plus a solvent in a chamber. The choice of solvent and polymers, combined with rapid mixing in the chamber, enables the polymers to aggregate into particles ranging from tens to hundreds of nanometers in length.

The ability to easily and rapidly produce the particles could enable the more widespread use of Janus particles as amphiphiles, which are chemicals that have both water- and oil-soluble properties that make them ideal for use in personal and health care products. Current methods of producing these particles are cumbersome, requiring multistep procedures and lengthy process times. The new technology has the potential to make Janus particles on an industrial scale.

One potential use for large numbers of nanometer-scale Janus particles is in highly stable foams and emulsions. Such emulsions could be used to deliver active ingredients and to enhance therapeutics, or as emulsifiers for agricultural chemicals.

Janus particles themselves also offer the possibility to serve as bifunctional active components in personal health care products. Priestley and his team are also investigating their use as nanoerasers in cleaning applications.

Collaborators Robert Prud’homme, professor of chemical and biological engineering; Chris Sosa and Vicki Lee, graduate students in chemical and biological engineering; Rui Liu, a former postdoctoral researcher at Princeton and professor at the School of Materials Science and Engineering, Tongji University, Shanghai.

Development status Patent protection is pending. Princeton is seeking outside interest for further development of this technology.

Funding source National Science Foundation