Direct Observation of Emulsion Morphology, Dynamics, and Demulsification
mediaposted on 18.03.2022, 18:09 by Maria A. Vratsanos, Nathan C. Gianneschi
Herein, we present the direct observation and quantification of a water-in-oil (w/o) emulsion, its destabilization, and the effect of additives on such processes at the nanoscale. This is achieved via liquid phase transmission electron microscopy (LPTEM), wherein a small volume of emulsion is encapsulated against vacuum in its liquid state to allow observation of its initial morphology and its evolution over time at excellent spatial and temporal resolution. Emulsions of this class are useful for delivering payloads of materials insoluble in their delivery medium and are currently widely used across food science, pharmaceuticals, and environmental applications. However, their utility is inherently limited by their thermodynamic tendency to demulsify, eventually leading to bulk phase separation. This occurs via several degradation mechanisms, operating at times collectively, and which are difficult to differentiate via traditional ensemble methods (e.g., light scattering), obscuring mechanistic nuances. LPTEM as a characterization technique has the potential to augment our understanding of emulsion behavior and improve performance and formulations. In this work, we also emphasize the importance of the included videographic Supporting Information data in demonstrating the behavior of the studied materials.
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