Langmuir : the ACS journal of surfaces and colloids

Dispersion behavior and aqueous foams in mixtures of a vesicle-forming surfactant and edible nanoparticles.

PMID 25734773


In an attempt to prepare ultrastable aqueous foams composed entirely of food-grade ingredients, we describe the foamability and foam stability of aqueous phases containing either calcium carbonate particles (CaCO3), sodium stearoyl lactylate surfactant (SSL), or their mixtures. Techniques including zeta potential measurements, adsorption isotherm determination, contact angles and optical and cryo-scanning electron microscopy are used to probe the interaction between particles and surfactant molecules. Aqueous dispersions of inherently hydrophilic cationic CaCO3 nanoparticles do not foam to any great extent. By contrast, aqueous dispersions of anionic SSL, which forms a lamellar phase/vesicles, foam progressively on increasing the concentration. Despite their foamability being low compared to that of micelle-forming surfactant sodium dodecyl sulfate, they are much more stable to collapse with half-lives (of up to 40 days) of around 2 orders of magnitude higher above the respective aggregation concentrations. We believe that, in addition to surfactant lamellae around bubbles, the bilayers within vesicles contain surfactant chains in a solidlike state yielding indestructible aggregates that jam the aqueous films between bubbles, reducing the drainage rate and both bubble coalescence and gas-transfer between bubbles. In mixtures of particles and surfactant, the adsorption of SSL monomers occurs on particle surfaces, leading to an increase in their hydrophobicity, promoting particle adsorption to bubble surfaces. Ultrastable foams result with half-lives of around an order of magnitude higher again at low concentrations and foams which lose only around 30% of their volume within a year at high concentrations. In the latter case, we evidence a high surface density of discrete surfactant-coated particles at bubble surfaces, rendering them stable to coalescence and disproportionation.