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Introduction to Microemulsions

Jurkin, Tanja; Gotić, Marijan (2013) Introduction to Microemulsions. Kemija u industriji, 62 (11-12). pp. 389-399. ISSN 0022-9830

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Hoar and Schulman were the first (in 1943) to describe the transparent water-in-oil dispersion. They noted that a certain combination of water, oil, surfactant and alcohol cosurfactant would produce a clear homogeneous "solution", which Schulman in 1959 termed microemulsion. Schulman’s model of the inverse submicroscopic micelle is shown in Fig. 1. The IUPAC definition describes microemulsion as a dispersion made of water, oil, and surfactant(s), which is an isotropic and thermodynamically stable system with dispersed domain diameter varying approximately from 1 to 100 nm, usually 10 to 50 nm. Water-in-oil microemulsions are important for the synthesis of various inorganic materials. In contrast to inverse micelle, water-in-oil micro- emulsion aggregates have mobile or free water in the core of the aggregate (Fig. 2). Reactions take place in a small volume of water inside a microdroplet, which results in improved properties of the products in terms of purity and particle size distribution. Microdroplet size can be controlled by suitable choice and mixing ratio of surfactant and cosurfactant (Fig. 3) and by the chemical composition of the oil and water phases. Microemulsions may have complex phase behaviour, commonly displayed in a phase diagram (Fig. 5 and Fig. 12). Surfactants are amphiphile molecules with hydrophilic head and lypophilic tail, thus bringing them affinity both to water and oil. Their main characteristics are adsorption at the interface and self-organization into supramolecular structures. By forming the interface layer, surfactants decrease surface tension and stabilize the microemulsion. According to the character of the hydrophilic head, surfactants are divided into anionic, cationic, nonionic, and amphoteric. Chemical structures of typical representatives are given in Fig. 6. Microemulsion aggregates may have various shapes, e.g. spherical, ellipsoidal, cylindrical, worm-like or bilayer (Fig. 7). Bicontinuous phase also occurs in different forms, e.g. hexagonal, lamellar or cubic. The main parameters that determines the microstructure are curvature of the interface film. (Fig. 8) and critical packing parameter (Fig. 10). A microemulsion can be composed of microdroplets of oil in water, or microdroplets of water in oil, or it can be the so-called bicontinuous phase in which water and oil are continuously intermixed in a sponge-like structure (Fig. 9). The solubility of water in microemulsion (Fig. 12) as well as morphology of microemulsion aggregates (Fig. 7) are very important for the synthesis of nano particles using microemulsion technique.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Microemulsions; phase diagram; surfactants; microemulsion aggregates
Subjects: NATURAL SCIENCES > Chemistry
Divisions: Division of Materials Chemistry
Depositing User: Tanja Jurkin
Date Deposited: 18 Apr 2014 08:22
Last Modified: 18 Apr 2014 08:22

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