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Efficient formation of oil-in-oil Pickering emulsions with narrow size distributions by using electric fields.

Soft matter (2018-06-09)
Z Rozynek, R Bielas, A Józefczak
ABSTRACT

Droplets covered by adsorbed particles are used in a wide range of research studies and applications, including stabilising emulsions used in the food or cosmetic industries, and fabricating new materials, such as microcapsules or multi-cavity structures. Pickering emulsions are commonly prepared by bulk emulsification techniques, for instance, by ultrasonic homogenisation or mechanical stirring, by membrane emulsification, or with the use of microfluidics. The latter two methods typically allow for more precise control of the droplet size distribution, whereas the bulk techniques guarantee high throughput. Here we propose a new bulk approach to fabricating Pickering emulsions by utilising electric fields. We prepare oil-in-oil emulsions stabilised by microparticles and control the mean size of the Pickering droplets. In our approach we take advantage of total surface area reduction of emulsion droplets by electrocoalescence. This leads to an increase in particle coverage, and eventually to formation of densely packed particle shells on Pickering droplets. First, we prepare an unstable pre-emulsion with droplets having small sizes and low particle coverages, from which the final Pickering emulsion is formed via consecutive coalescence events speeded up by application of electric fields. We monitor the development of the emulsions with optical microscopy imaging. The results demonstrate that the utilisation of electric fields goes beyond the mere role of enhancing coalescence; it plays an important role in surface particle manipulation and droplet rotation that further promote formation of stable particle-covered drops.

MATERIALS
Product Number
Brand
Product Description

Sigma-Aldrich
Castor oil, tested according to Ph. Eur.

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