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Kinetics of Oil Exchange in Nanoemulsions Prepared with the Phase Inversion Concentration Method

Hoffmann, Ingo, Simon, Miriam, Hörmann, Anja, Gravert, Thorsten, Heunemann, Peggy, Rogers, Sarah E., Gradzielski, Michael
Langmuir 2016 v.32 no.46 pp. 12084-12090
Ostwald ripening, alkanes, drug delivery systems, emulsions, energy, hydrophobicity, neutrons, oils, polymerization, surfactants, thermodynamics
Nanoemulsions (NEs) are metastable emulsions with droplet sizes between 20 and 100 nm and with a wide range of applications, for example, in polymerization, in pharmaceutical and cosmetic formulations, and as drug delivery systems. Even though they are not in thermodynamic equilibrium, they can be metastable over relatively long times and have the advantage that they can be formed easily by low energy input methods. In particular, the phase inversion concentration (PIC) method allows the formation of NEs by the dilution of a suitable mixture of oil and surfactants with water. In this paper, we investigate the kinetics of the oil exchange process of NEs formed by the PIC method by looking at the exchange of different hydrophobic oils and by employing contrast variation stopped flow small-angle neutron scattering. These experiments demonstrate that this exchange becomes substantially slower by increasing the chain length of the alkane. This indicates a mechanism where monomer exchange is relevant, which would indicate also that for aging one would expect Ostwald ripening to be the determining factor. Such investigations can be carried out in a unique fashion by means of neutron scattering, and the results have important implications for the optimization of NE formulations.