Interactions between interfaces dictate stimuli-responsive emulsion behaviour

Marcel Rey*, Jannis Kolker, James A. Richards, Isha Malhotra, Thomas S. Glen, N. Y. Denise Li, Fraser H.J. Laidlaw, Damian Renggli, Jan Vermant, Andrew B. Schofield, Syuji Fujii, Hartmut Lowen, Paul S. Clegg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Stimuli-responsive emulsions offer a dual advantage, combining long-term storage with controlled release triggered by external cues such as pH or temperature changes. This study establishes that thermo-responsive
emulsion behaviour is primarily determined by interactions between, rather than within, interfaces. Consequently, the stability of these emulsions is intricately tied to the nature of the stabilizing microgel particles - whether they are more polymeric or colloidal, and the morphology they assume at the liquid interface. The colloidal properties of the microgels provide the foundation for the long-term stability of Pickering emulsions. However, limited deformability can lead to non-responsive emulsions. Conversely, the polymeric properties of the microcrogels enable them to spread and flatten at the liquid interface, enabling
stimuli-responsive behaviour. Furthermore, microgels shared between two emulsion droplets in flocculated emulsions facilitate stimuli-responsiveness, regardless of their internal architecture. This underscores the pivotal role of microgel morphology and the forces they exert on liquid interfaces in the control and design of stimuli-responsive emulsions and interfaces.
Original languageEnglish
Article number6723
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 23 Oct 2023


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