ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. Microencapsulation isn't a new technology, but it's always finding new applications. Familiar uses include the scratch-and-sniff perfume ads in magazines, certain time-release pharmaceuticals, and (perhaps mostly for an older generation) carbonless copy paper.
Now Sandia National Laboratories resident microencapsulation expert, Duane Schneider, is working with an Albuquerque company to use microencapsulation technology in a novel self-warming hand and body lotion.
Microencapsulation, as its name suggests, is the creation of a tiny capsule (or, in practice, lots of tiny capsules), usually just microns in diameter, containing a particular material. In practice, microencapsulation entails placing a spherical shell composed of a synthetic or natural polymer completely around another chemical. That shell delays or slows the release of the core material. When the polymer shell dissolves or is ruptured by pressure, the material it encapsulates is released.
In addition to the familiar uses noted above, microcapsules have found uses in the pharmaceutical, agricultural, cosmetic, and food industries and have been used to encapsulate oils, aqueous solutions, alcohols, and various solids.
Schneider didn't start out as the microencapsulation go-to guy at Sandia, but a need arose and he stepped forward to fill it, learning everything he could about the subject, which can be as much an art as a science. Microencapsulation work is but one aspect of Schneider's job in the Organic Materials department he also supports a variety of nuclear weapon, alternative energy, and nanoscience programs as a chemical technologist. Over the years he's developed microencapsulation solutions for a number of critical national security-related projects. For example, his microencapsulation work has found its way into Sandia technology designed to detect explosive materials.
Sandia researchers aren't the only ones who've come kno
|Contact: William T. Murphy|
DOE/Sandia National Laboratories