Core-shell microcapsules from unpurified legume flours

Xiufeng Li, Jasper Van Der Gucht, Philipp Erni, Renko De Vries*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Plant-based ingredients are key building blocks for future sustainable advanced materials. Functionality is typically higher for highly purified plant-based ingredients, but this is at the expense of their sustainability value. Here, a method is introduced for creating a soft functional material, with structural elements ranging from the nanometer to the millimeter scale, directly from legume flours. Globulins from soy and pea flours are extracted in their native state at acidic pH and mixed with gum arabic, resulting in liquid-liquid phase separation into a dilute phase and a viscoelastic complex coacervate. Interfacial tensions of the coacervates, determined via AFM-based probing of capillary condensation, are found to be very low (γ= 48.5 and 32.3 μN/m for, respectively, soy and pea), thus promoting the deposition of a shell of coacervate material around oil droplets. Despite the complex nature of the starting material, the dependence of interfacial tensions on salt concentrations follows a scaling law previously shown to hold for model complex coacervates. Curing of the coacervate material into a strong and purely elastic hydrogel is shown to be possible via simple heating, both in bulk and as a shell around oil droplets, thus providing proof of principle for the fabrication of precise core-shell microcapsules directly from legume flours.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37598–37608
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number31
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jul 2021


  • AFM
  • Complex coacervation
  • Core-shell capsule
  • Encapsulation
  • Interfacial tension
  • Plant protein


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