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Effect of Salt on the Formation and Stability of Water-in-Oil Pickering Nanoemulsions Stabilized by Diblock Copolymer Nanoparticles

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journal contribution
posted on 17.12.2020, 22:45 by Saul J. Hunter, Erik J. Cornel, Oleksandr O. Mykhaylyk, Steven P. Armes
Sterically stabilized diblock copolymer nanoparticles are prepared in n-dodecane using polymerization-induced self-assembly. Precursor Pickering macroemulsions are then prepared by the addition of water followed by high-shear homogenization. In the absence of any salt, high-pressure microfluidization of such precursor emulsions leads to the formation of relatively large aqueous droplets with DLS measurements indicating a mean diameter of more than 600 nm. However, systemically increasing the salt concentration produces significantly finer droplets after microfluidization, until a limiting diameter of around 250 nm is obtained at 0.11 M NaCl. The mean size of these aqueous droplets can also be tuned by systematically varying the nanoparticle concentration, applied pressure, and the number of passes through the microfluidizer. The mean number of nanoparticles adsorbed onto each aqueous droplet and their packing efficiency are calculated. SAXS studies conducted on a Pickering nanoemulsion prepared using 0.11 M NaCl confirms that the aqueous droplets are coated with a loosely packed monolayer of nanoparticles. The effect of varying the NaCl concentration within the droplets on their initial rate of Ostwald ripening is investigated using DLS. Finally, the long-term stability of these water-in-oil Pickering nanoemulsions is assessed using analytical centrifugation. The rate of droplet ripening can be substantially reduced by using 0.11 M NaCl instead of pure water. However, increasing the salt concentration up to 0.43 M provided no further improvement in the long-term stability of such nanoemulsions.