Microgels as stimuli-responsive stabilizers for emulsions

Bastian Brugger, Brian A Rosen, Walter Richtering

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Temperature- and pH-sensitive microgels from cross-linked poly(N-isopropylacrylamide)-co-methacrylic acid are utilized for emulsion stabilization. The pH- and temperature-dependent stability of the prepared emulsion was characterized. Stable emulsions are obtained at high pH and room temperature. Emulsions with polar oils, like 1-octanol, can be broken by either addition of acid or an increase of temperature, whereas emulsions with unpolar oils do not break upon these stimuli. However, complete phase separation, independent of oil polarity, can be achieved by successive acid addition and heating. This procedure also offers a way to recover and recycle the microgel from the sample. Interfacial dilatational rheology data correlate with the stimuli sensitivity of the emulsion, and a strong dependence of the interfacial elastic and loss moduli on pH and temperature was found. The influence of the preparation method on the type of emulsion is demonstrated. The mean droplet size of the emulsions is characterized by means of flow particle image analysis. The type of emulsion [water in oil (w/o) or oil in water (o/w)] depends on the preparation technique as well as on the microgel content. Emulsification with high shear rates allows preparation of both w/o and o/w emulsions, whereas with low shear rates o/w emulsions are the preferred type. The emulsions are stable at high pH and low temperature, but instable at low pH and high temperature. Therefore, we conclude that poly(N-isopropylacrylamide)-co-methacrylic acid microgels can be used as stimuli-sensitive stabilizers for emulsions. This offers a new and unique way to control emulsion stability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12202-8
Number of pages7
Issue number21
StatePublished - 4 Nov 2008


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