Optical sensor arrays designed for guided manufacture of perfluorocarbon nanoemulsions with a non-synthetic stabilizer

Ryan Bardsley, Graeme Gardner, Hubert M. Tse, Christopher A. Fraker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hydrophobic drugs are incorporated into oil-in-water nanoemulsions (OIW) either as new formulations or repurposed for intravenous delivery. Typically, these are manufactured through stepwise processes of sonication or high-pressure homogenization (HPH). The guiding criteria for most nanoemulsion manufacture are the size and homogeneity/polydispersity of the drug-laden particles with strict requirements for clinical injectables. To date, most formulation optimization is done through trial and error with stepwise sampling during processing utilizing dynamic light scattering (DLS), light obscuration sensing (LOS) or laser particle tracking (LPT) to assess manufacturing progress. The objective of this work was to develop and implement an in-line optical turbidity/nephelometry sensor array for the longitudinal in-process monitoring of nanoemulsion manufacture. A further objective was the use of this sensor array to rapidly optimize the manufacture of a sub-120 nm oxygen carrying perfluorocarbon nanoemulsion with a non-synthetic stabilizer. During processing, samples were taken for particle size measurement and further characterization. There was a significant correlation and agreement between particle size and sensor signal as well as improved process reproducibility through sensor-guided manufacture. Given the cost associated with nanoemulsion development and scale-up manufacture, our sensor arrays could be an invaluable tool for efficient and cost-effective drug development. Sensor-guided manufacturing was used to optimize oxygen-carrying nanoemulsions. These were tested, in vitro, for their ability to improve the viability of encapsulated endocrine clusters (mouse insulinoma, Min6) and to eliminate hypoxia due to oxygen mass transfer limitations. The nanomulsions significantly improved encapsulated cluster viability and reduced hypoxia within the microcapsule environment. Statement of significance: Nanoemulsions are rapidly becoming vehicles for the controlled release delivery of both hydrophilic and hydrophobic drugs given their large surface area for exchange. As work shifts from bench to large scale manufacturing, there is a critical need for technologies that can monitor and accumulate data during processing, particularly regarding the endpoint criteria of particle size and stability. To date, no such technology has been implemented in nanoemulsion manufacture. In this paper we develop and implement an optical sensor array for in-line nanoemulsion process monitoring and then use the array to optimize the development and manufacture of novel reproducible oxygen carrying nanoemulsions lacking synthetic surfactants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)558-569
Number of pages12
JournalActa Biomaterialia
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Drug development
  • Encapsulation
  • Microfluidization
  • Nanoemulsions
  • Perfluorocarbon
  • Surfactant
  • Tissue engineering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biomaterials
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Molecular Biology


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