Physical Chemistry

Buckling versus crystal expulsion controlled by deformation rate of particle-coated air bubbles in oil



Oil foams stabilized by crystallizing agents exhibit outstanding stability and show promise for applications in consumer products. The stability and mechanics imparted by the interfacial layer of crystals underpin product shelf-life, as well as optimal processing conditions and performance in applications. Shelf-life is affected by the stability against bubble dissolution over a long time scale, which leads to slow compression of the interfacial layer. In processing flow conditions, the imposed deformation is characterized by much shorter time scales. In practical situations, the crystal layer is therefore subjected to deformation on extremely different time scales. Despite its importance, our understanding of the behavior of such interfacial layers at different time scales remains limited. To address this gap, here we investigate the dynamics of single, crystal-coated bubbles isolated from an oleofoam, at two extreme timescales: the diffusion-limited timescale characteristic of bubble dissolution 10,000 s, and a fast time scale characteristic of processing flow conditions, 0.001 s. In our experiments, slow deformation is obtained by bubble dissolution, and fast deformation in controlled conditions with real-time imaging is obtained using ultrasound-induced bubble oscillations. The experiments reveal that the fate of the interfacial layer is dramatically affected by the dynamics of deformation: after complete bubble dissolution, a continuous solid layer remains; while after fast, oscillatory deformation of the layer, small crystals are expelled from the layer. This observation shows promise towards developing stimuli-responsive systems, with sensitivity to deformation rate, in addition to the already known thermo- and photo-responsiveness of oleofoams.


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Supplementary material

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Supporting Information -- Crystal shape and size in the oleofoam
High-magnification optical micrographs and characterization of crystals shape and size in bulk oleogel network and at oil/air interface.