We study the deformations of pH-responsive spherical microcapsules - micrometer-scale liquid drops surrounded by thin, solid shells - under the influence of electrostatic forces. When exposed to a large concentration of NaOH, the microcapsules become highly charged, and expand isotropically. We find that the extent of this expansion can be understood by coupling electrostatics with shell theory; moreover, the expansion dynamics is well described by Darcy's law for fluid flow through the microcapsule shell. Unexpectedly, however, below a threshold NaOH concentration, the microcapsules begin to disintegrate, and eventually rupture; they then expand non-uniformly, ultimately forming large, jellyfish-like structures. Our results highlight the fascinating range of behaviors exhibited by pH-responsive microcapsules, driven by the interplay between electrostatic and mechanical forces.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Materials Science(all)
- Mechanics of Materials
- Process Chemistry and Technology
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering