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The secret life of Pickering emulsions: particle exchange revealed using two colours of particle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Article number31401
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 10 Aug 2016


Emulsion droplets stabilised by colloidal particles (Pickering emulsions) can be highly stable, so it is unsurprising that they are beginning to be exploited industrially. The individual colloidal particles have interfacial attachment energies that are vastly larger than the thermal energy, hence they are usually thought of as being irreversibly adsorbed. Here we show, for the first time, particles being exchanged between droplets in a Pickering emulsion. This occurs when the emulsion contains droplets that share particles, often called bridging. By starting with two emulsions showing bridging, each stabilised by a different colour of particle, the dynamics can be studied as they are gently mixed together on a roller bank. We find that particle exchange occurs by two routes: firstly, during a period of unbridging and rebridging whose duration can be tuned by varying the wettability of the particles, and secondly, during very rare events when particles are ejected from one droplet and re-adsorbed onto another.

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