Nature communications

Multi-body coalescence in Pickering emulsions.

PMID 25581366


Particle-stabilized Pickering emulsions have shown unusual behaviours such as the formation of non-spherical droplets and the sudden halt of coalescence between individual droplets. Here we report another unusual behaviour of Pickering emulsions-the simultaneous coalescence of multiple droplets in a single event. Using latex particles, silica particles and carbon nanotubes as model stabilizers, we show that multi-body coalescence can occur in both water-in-oil and oil-in-water emulsions. The number of droplets involved in the nth coalscence event equals four times the corresponding number of the tetrahedral sequence in close packing. Furthermore, coalescence is promoted by repulsive latex and silica particles but inhibited by attractive carbon nanotubes. The revelation of multi-body coalescence is expected to help better understand Pickering emulsions in natural systems and improve their designs in engineering applications.