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June 14th, 2007
Oil and water are not miscible. However, it is possible to combine both into an emulsion in which they act as a unit—for example, in creams, body lotion, milk, or mayonnaise. In these substances, one of the two liquids is dispersed as tiny droplets in the other, which requires an emulsifier and vigorous shaking or stirring.
Whether the oil droplets are suspended in water (oil-in-water emulsion O/W) or the water droplets are suspended in oil (water-in-oil emulsion W/O) depends on various factors. In the journal Angewandte Chemie, a British team from the University of Hull now reports a double inversion of a nanoparticle-containing emulsion: By the successive addition of a surfactant, they were able to convert an O/W emulsion into a W/O emulsion and then back again.
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