Effect of Surface Energy on Powder Compactibility

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The influence of surface energy on the compactibility of lactose particles has been investigated.

Materials and Methods

Three powders were prepared by spray drying lactose solutions without or with low proportions of the surfactant polysorbate 80. Various powder and tablet characterisation procedures were applied. The surface energy of the powders was characterized by Inverse Gas Chromatography and the compressibility of the powders was described by the relationship between tablet porosity and compression pressure. The compactibility of the powders was analyzed by studying the evolution of tablet tensile strength with increasing compaction pressure and porosity.


All powders were amorphous and similar in particle size, shape, and surface area. The compressibility of the powders and the microstructure of the formed tablets were equal. However, the compactibility and dispersive surface energy was dependent of the composition of the powders.


The decrease in tablet strength correlated to the decrease in powder surface energy at constant tablet porosities. This supports the idea that tablet strength is controlled by formation of intermolecular forces over the areas of contact between the particles and that the strength of these bonding forces is controlled by surface energy which, in turn, can be altered by the presence of surfactants.

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