Authors:L. Zane Miller, Jeremy L. Steinbacher, Tania I. Houjeiry, Ashley R. Longstreet, Kendra L. Woodberry, B. Frank Gupton, Banghao Chen, Ron Clark and D. Tyler McQuade
Monodisperse silica microcapsules are typically fabricated using hard templating methods. Though soft templating methods are known, none yet provides a fast and easy method to produce monodisperse capsules. Herein, we describe a mesofluidic strategy whereby monodisperse droplets of reactive silica precursors are formed using a snap-off mechanism via a T junction. Both the mesofluidic system and the composition of the reactive silica formulation are critical features. Using solid- and solution-state 29Si nuclear magnetic resonance, scanning electron microscopy, and optical microscopy, we have developed models for why some formulations form exploding capsules, why some capsules contain crystalline materials, and why some capsules have thin or thick walls.