Macromolecular Rapid Communications, 2015, vol 36, 13, pp. 1267-1271
Currently available methods for synthesis of polymeric nanocapsules only offer limited control over the shell thickness, even though it is an important parameter for various applications. Furthermore, suitable methods to critically measure this parameter in a facile way are still nonexistent. Here, lab-scale small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) is utilized to in situ measure the evolution of shell thickness during nanocapsule synthesis via inverse miniemulsion periphery reversible addition–fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT) polymerization (IMEPP). The measured shell thickness is consistent with estimates from the commonly used transmission electron microscopy (TEM) technique. Moreover, the individual thicknesses of two concentric shells comprising different polymeric materials (the outer shell formed via IMEPP chain extension of the inner shell) can be determined, thus further demonstrating the versatility of this approach.