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Synthesis and Stability of Water-in-Oil Emulsion Using Partially Reduced Graphene Oxide as a Tailored Surfactant

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posted on 05.09.2017, 00:00 authored by Tanesh D. Gamot, Arup Ranjan Bhattacharyya, Tam Sridhar, Fiona Beach, Rico F. Tabor, Mainak Majumder
Graphene oxide (GO) is widely known as an amphiphile having hydrophilic oxygen functionality and unoxidized graphitic patches as the hydrophobic domains. Exploiting this amphiphilicity, GO serves as a surfactant to stabilize oil–water interfaces. While there are numerous reports on GO as a surfactant, most of these reports concern oil-in-water (O/W) emulsions, and there are very few on the formation of water-in-oil (W/O) emulsions. We prepared W/O emulsions using partially reduced graphene oxide (prGO) as a surfactant. The partial reduction introduces a subtle hydrophilic–lipophilic balance (HLB), which favors the formation of the W/O emulsion. The morphological features and rheological characteristics of the W/O emulsion with 75:25 water-to-oil ratio were investigated and analyzed in detail. The W/O emulsion was found to have polydispersity with wide range of droplet sizes varying between 2 to 500 μm. Using confocal microscopy, the role of parameters such as extent of reduction, continuous phase volume fraction and the concentration of GO on the stability, microstructure and variation of droplet size distribution of the W/O emulsion were carefully monitored. With prGO concentration as large as 0.05% (w/w), highly concentrated emulsion will form, and are stable up to 20 days from formation; destabilization occurred from sedimentation and subsequent coalescence as the partially reduced GO was limited by its dispersion ability in the oil-phase studied here. Understanding the mechanisms behind the transient stability will enable the development of novel emulsion compositions containing GO as a multifunctional additive.

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