Hollow polymer shells from biological templates: Fabrication and potential applications

Edwin Donath, Sergio Moya, Björn Neu, Gleb B. Sukhorukov, Radostina Georgieva, Andreas Voigt, Hans Bäumler, Holger Kiesewetter, Helmuth Möhwald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

168 Citations (Scopus)


Three-dimensional ultrathin polymer shells have been produced by a combination of step-by-step adsorption of polyelectrolytes on glutaraldehyde-treated human erythrocytes and subsequent solubilization of the cytoplasmatic constituents by means of a deproteinizing agent. The obtained hollow films preserve both the size and shape of the templating cells. This opens a pathway for the fabrication of polymeric capsules within a wide range of size and shape by using various biological templates. They may have exciting potential applications, such as templates for nanocomposites, as containers for a large class of materials, or as cages for chemical reactions. The thickness of the films can be adjusted over a large range: from a few nm up to several tens of nm. The polymer shells are permeable to small molecules and ions but not to macromolecules. An increase in the ionic strength of the solution up to 100 mmol make the capsules permeable for proteins. Permeability and conductivity studies have provided evidence that the adsorption of lipids on polyelectrolyte layers is a means of producing capsules with controlled permeability properties. 6-Carboxyfluorescein and Rhodamin 6G were precipitated within the capsules.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5481-5485
Number of pages5
JournalChemistry - A European Journal
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 2 Dec 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Cell templating
  • Layered compounds
  • Nanostructures
  • Polyelectrolytes
  • Polymers


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