Silicone-protein surfactants; stability of water-in-silicone oil emulsions

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Small scale water-in-silicone oil emulsions were readily prepared using high speed mixers. Two surfactant systems were studied: a comb-type silicone-polyether surfactant, and a surfactant system employing a mixture of the surface active protein human serum albumin (HSA, in the internal phase) and an alkoxysilane-modified silicone TES-PDMS in the silicone oil (continuous phase). Little difference in particle sizes was noted between the two surfactant types for a given mixing protocol, but dual-blade turbulent mixing led to relatively monodisperse particles of approximately 2–5 μ m in diameter while high speed Dremel mixers led to bimodal particle distributions. Prior to spontaneous demulsification of the latter emulsions stabilized by HSA/TES-PDMS (the 3225C emulsions remain stable), they proved very difficult to break. The addition of dibutyltin dilaurate to the HSA/TES-PDMS-stabilized emulsions led to catastrophic collapse of the emulsion and formation of a silicone elastomer at the bulk water/oil interface. This makes unlikely the possibility that silicone elastomers, formed by protein-catalyzed crosslinking of the alkoxysilane in albumin/TES-PDMS-stabilized emulsions, are involved in stabilizing the emulsion. The nature of the stabilization of the interface is discussed.

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