We investigated the individual properties of various polyion-coated bubbles with a mean diameter ranging from 300 to 500 nm. Dark field microscopy allows one to track the individual particles of the submicron bubbles (SBs) encapsulated by the layer-by-layer (LbL) deposition of cationic and anionic polyelectrolytes (PEs). Our focus is on the two-step charge reversals of PE-SB complexes: the first is a reversal from negatively charged bare SBs with no PEs added to positive SBs encapsulated by polycations (monolayer deposition), and the second is overcharging into negatively charged PE-SB complexes due to the subsequent addition of polyanions (double-layer deposition). The details of these phenomena have been clarified through the analysis of a number of trajectories of various PE-SB complexes that experience either Brownian motion or electrophoresis. The contrasted results obtained from the analysis were as follows: an amount in excess of the stoichiometric ratio of the cationic polymers was required for the first charge-reversal, whereas the stoichiometric addition of the polyanions lead to the electrical neutralization of the PE-SB complex particles. The recovery of the stoichiometry in the double-layer deposition paves the way for fabricating multi-layered SBs encapsulated solely with anionic and cationic PEs, which provides a simple protocol to create smart agents for either drug delivery or ultrasound contrast imaging.
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