In this work, the block copolypeptide surfactant, poly(l-lysine·HBr)40-b-poly(racemic-leucine)20, was synthesized and characterized, then used to build water-in-oil-in-water (W/O/W) double emulsions. Double emulsions are usually prepared by a two-step emulsification process and commonly stabilized using a combination of hydrophilic and hydrophobic surfactants. Herein, we report a one-step phase inversion process to produce water-in-oil-in-water (W/O/W) double emulsions stabilized by a synthetic diblock copolymer and electrolyte. It was found that the O/W ratio and the type of electrolyte had a marked effect on the formation and type of the double emulsions. Moreover, double emulsions containing an NaCl isotonic solution were stable for at least two months, whereas those using glucose as a substitute for NaCl showed a clear compartmental change. The mechanism behind this was related to the electrostatic interaction between the anion of the electrolyte and the cation of the polylysine residues, which affected the HLB value and curvature. This novel finding is very interesting in terms of both scientific research and practical applications. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.
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