All-Aqueous Liquid Crystal Nanocellulose Emulsions with Permeable Interfacial Assembly

Long Bai, Siqi Huan, Bin Zhao, Ya Zhu, Jordi Esquena, Feng Chen, Guang Gao, Eyal Zussman, Guang Chu*, Orlando J. Rojas*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


We report on the formation of water-in-water liquid crystal emulsions with permeable colloidal assemblies. Rodlike cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) spontaneously self-assemble into a helical arrangement with the coexistence of nonionic, hydrophilic polyethylene glycol (PEG) and dextran, whereas the two polymer solutions are thermodynamically incompatible. Stable water-in-water emulsions are easily prepared by mixing the respective CNC/polymer solutions, showing micrometric CNC/PEG dispersed droplets and a continuous CNC/dextran phase. With time, the resulting emulsion demixes into an upper, droplet-lean isotropic phase and a bottom, droplet-rich cholesteric phase. Owing to the osmotic pressure gradient between PEG and dextran phases, target transfer of cellulose nanoparticles occurs across the water/water interface to reassemble into a liquid crystal-in-liquid crystal emulsion with global cholesteric organization. The observed structural, optical, and temporal evolution confirm that the colloidal particles in the two immiscible phases experience short-range interactions and form long-range assemblies across the interface.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13380-13390
Number of pages11
JournalACS Nano
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 27 Oct 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • cellulose nanocrystals
  • liquid crystal
  • osmotic pressure
  • permeable self-assembly
  • water-in-water emulsion


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