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Sushant Anand finds a new way to create nanoscale emulsions

17.11.2017 14:20

The reluctance of oil and water to mix together – and stay that way – is proverbial. But now, research conducted by Branco Weiss Fellow Sushant Anand and others show that it is possible to get the two substances to mix and remain stable for long periods without shaking them. The findings have been published in Nature Communications.

The researchers attained their goal by cooling a bath of oil containing a small amount of a soap-like substance called surfactant. Water vapor from the surrounding air that condenses onto the oil surface will produce tiny, uniform droplets on the surface that then sink into the oil. The size of the droplets can be controlled by adjusting the proportion of surfactant. The nanoscale emulsions built using this approach remained stable over periods of several months.

Being able to mix oil and water is important for many uses. Emulsions are used in drug delivery, material synthesis, cosmetics, oil recovery, food products, and many multi-billion-dollar industries. Typically, these emulsions are made by either mechanically shaking the mix or using sound waves to set up intense vibrations within the liquid. Compared to these techniques, the newly discovered approach is very energy inexpensive. In addition, the new process is highly scalable owing to its simplicity.

Read about the discovery on the Daily Mail website

Read the news on the MIT website

Read the paper on the Nature Communications website