Destribats M., Lapeyre V., Sellier E., Leal Calderon F., Ravaine V., Schmitt V.,
Langmuir 2012, 28, 3744-3755.

We used soft microgels made of poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (pNIPAM) of variable cross-linking degrees and the same colloidal size to stabilize oil-in-water Pickering emulsions. The extent of droplet flocculation increased and the resistance of the emulsions to mechanical stresses decreased as the cross-linking density was augmented. Large flat films were separating the droplets, and we could measure the adhesion angle at the junction with the free interfaces through several microscopy methods. The size of the flat films and the values of the angles were reflecting strong adhesive interactions between the interfaces as a result of microgel bridging. In parallel, cryo-SEM imaging of the thin films allowed a precise determination of their structure. The evolution of the adhesion angle and of the film structure as a function of microgels cross-linking density provided interesting insights into the impact of particle softness on film adhesiveness and emulsion stability. We exploited our main findings to propose a novel route for controlling the emulsions end-use properties (flocculation and stability). Owing to particle softness and thermal sensitivity, the interfacial coverage was a path function (it depended on the sample “history”). As a consequence, by adapting the emulsification conditions, the interfacial monolayer could be trapped in a very dense and rigid configuration, providing improved resistance to bridging flocculation and to flow-induced coalescence.


Langmuir2012 p3744 TOC