Mechanical properties of particle-stabilised liquid-liquid interfaces
Rumble, Katherine Ann
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Over the past couple of decades interest in particle-stabilised emulsions or Pickering emulsions has greatly increased. When using particles as stabilisers, as opposed to surfactants, the interface becomes more rigid and this can lead to interesting physical properties. In addition, the resulting emulsions are found to be longer-lived garnering commercial interest. This thesis aims to explore the mechanical properties of some specific systems containing particle-stabilised interfaces. The main system investigated was the bicontinuous interfacially jammed emulsion gel or bijel. The bijel has two continuous interpenetrating liquid phases separated by a particle-stabilised interface. Therefore, the structure has a very large interface in a fairly small volume and the pore size is under the experimentalist's control giving it promise in a variety of applications, particularly those based on catalysis. The response of bijels stabilised by either spherical particles or anisotropic rod-shaped particles to centrifugal compression has been investigated in this thesis. It was found that, in both cases, the structure was distorted to create anisotropic particle-stabilised sheets orientated perpendicular to the force. The original method for fabricating bijels involves the arrested spinodal decomposition of partially miscible liquids. This method requires partially miscible liquid pairs and particles that are equally wetted by each phase. Due to these requirements, a new method for making bijels using mixing was developed by others and the bijel made by mixing has been tested with oscillatory rheology combined with imaging and squeeze flow experiments. It was found that at low strain the bijel displayed solid-like behaviour and the structure remained intact until well past the yielding point. In addition, two further systems were investigated. The first system was rod-shaped particle-stabilised emulsion droplets that stick together by particle bridging. Bridging is where one particle can stabilise two droplet interfaces, preventing coalescence and leading to droplet clusters. Particle bridging was found to occur regardless of shear rate, particle volume fraction and to some extent aspect ratio with these anisotropic rod-shaped particles. This behaviour is hypothesised to be a consequence of the charged nature of the silica surface above pH 2. The second system was large particle-stabilised water droplets that can sprout tubes by the partitioning of solute from a bath into the droplet. By using different solutes and mixtures of different alcohols, the key requirements for sprouting behaviour have been ascertained. The most important requirement was found to be achieving the correct balance between the interfacial tension and the amount of solute partitioning into the droplet.