Sci Adv. 2022 Oct 21;8(42):eabn0597. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.abn0597. Epub 2022 Oct 19.
Benefiting from the demixing of substances in the two-phase region, a smart polymer laminate film system that exhibits direction-controlled phase separation behavior was developed in this study. Here, nanoemulsion films (NEFs) in which liquid nanodrops were uniformly confined in a polymer laminate film through the layer-by-layer deposition of oppositely charged emulsion nanodrops and polyelectrolytes were fabricated. Upon reaching a critical temperature, the NEFs exhibited a micropore-guided demixing phenomenon. A simulation study based on coarse-grained molecular dynamics revealed that the perpendicular diffusion of oil droplets through the micropores generated in the polyelectrolyte layer is crucial for determining the coarsening kinetics and phase separation level, which is consistent with the experimental results. Considering the substantial advantages of this unique and tunable two-dimensional demixing behavior, the viability of using the as-proposed NEF system for providing an efficient route for the development of smart drug delivery patches was demonstrated.