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Probing the microstructure of nonionic microemulsions with ethyl oleate by viscosity, ROESY, DLS, SANS, and cyclic voltammetry.

Langmuir : the ACS journal of surfaces and colloids (2012-06-23)
Gurpreet Kaur, Leonardo Chiappisi, Sylvain Prévost, Ralf Schweins, Michael Gradzielski, Surinder K Mehta
ABSTRACT

Microemulsions are important formulations in cosmetics and pharmaceutics and one peculiarity lies in the so-called "phase inversion" that takes place at a given water-to-oil concentration ratio and where the average curvature of the surfactant film is zero. In that context, we investigated the structural transitions occurring in Brij 96-based microemulsions with the cosmetic oil ethyl oleate and studied the influence of the short chain alcohol butanol on their structure and properties as a function of water addition. The characterization has been carried out by means of transport properties, spectroscopy, DLS, SANS, and electrochemical methods. The results confirm that the nonionic Brij 96 in combination with butanol as cosurfactant forms a U-type microemulsion that upon addition of water undergoes a continuous transition from swollen reverse micelles to oil-in-water (O/W) microemulsion via a bicontinuous region. After determining the structural transition through viscosity and surface tension, the 2D-ROESY studies give an insight into the microstructure, i.e., the oil component ethyl oleate mainly is located at the hydrophobic tails of surfactant while butanol molecules reside preferentially in the interface. SANS experiments show a continuous increase of the size of the structural units with increasing water content. The DLS results are more complex and show the presence of two relaxation modes in these microemulsions for low water content and a single diffusive mode only for the O/W microemulsion droplets. The fast relaxation reflects the size of the structural units while the slower one is attributed to the formation of a network of percolated microemulsion aggregates. Electrochemical studies using ferrocene have been carried out and successfully elucidated the structural transformations with the help of diffusion coefficients. An unusual behavior of ferrocene has been observed in the present microheterogeneous medium, giving a deeper insight into ferrocene electrochemistry. NMR-ROESY experiments give information regarding the internal organization of the microemulsion droplets. In general, one finds a continuous structural transition from a W/O over a bicontinuous to an O/W microemulsion, however with a peculiar network formation over an extended concentration range, which is attributed to the somewhat amphiphilic oil ethyl oleate. The detailed knowledge of the structural behavior of this type of system might be important for their future applications.

MATERIALS
Product Number
Brand
Product Description

Sigma-Aldrich
Brij® O10
Sigma-Aldrich
BRIJ® O20, average Mn ~1,150
Sigma-Aldrich
Ethyl oleate, 98%
Sigma-Aldrich
Brij® 93, average Mn ~357
Sigma-Aldrich
Ethyl oleate, tested according to Ph. Eur.
Sigma-Aldrich
Ethyl oleate, natural, ≥85%
Sigma-Aldrich
Ethyl oleate, technical grade, 70%
Sigma-Aldrich
ECO BRIJ® O20, average Mn ~1,150
Sigma-Aldrich
ECO BRIJ® O10