Structure and behaviour of vesicles in the presence of colloidal particles
Throughout the (what seemed like long) years of my PhD in the BonLab, I was lucky enough to dip my toe in the proverbial pool that was the design and synthesis of polymeric vesicles. After a couple of years, this became a topic I was relatively well acquainted with, enough so that I was in a strong enough position to publish a research paper in the Royal Society of Chemistry's Materials Horizons, and ultimately pen a review on the same topic, namely vesicles modified by particles.
In simple terms, a vesicle is a liquid sac, somewhat like a water balloon, dispersed in a water environment. It can be thought of as a very simple biological cell (critically missing all of the useful components such as proteins and DNA). Such a sac can be prepared from polymers that can either be taken from nature or made in the lab, and by using well-known techniques, transformed into self-assembled structures.
It gets all the more interesting when functional particles get chucked into the mix, whether that be during synthesis or after, and brand new material combinations are realised. Instead of having a 'bare' liquid sac, one now has a 'super-powered' sac, that combines the function of the polymer structure with the, hopefully, interesting behaviour of an included particle.
This review, written with my supervising Professor dr. ir. Stefan A. F. Bon, explores numerous exciting and interesting examples of this kind of design. When writing this review, we hoped that readers would be inspired to think up their own novel combinations of particles and vesicles to generate brand-new materials with unique behaviours. I guess only time will tell if we have succeeded or not...