Manipulating and quantifying temperature-triggered coalescence with microcentrifugation

Feng Huanhuan, Huanhuan; Ershov, D.S.; Krebs, T.; Schroën, C.G.P.H.; Cohen Stuart, M.A.; Gucht, J. van der; Sprakel, J.H.B.


In this paper we describe a new approach to quantify the stability and coalescence kinetics of thermally switchable emulsions using an imaging-based microcentrifugation method. We first show that combining synchronized high-speed imaging with microfluidic centrifugation allows the direct measurement of the thermodynamic stability of emulsions, as expressed by the critical disjoining pressure. We apply this to a thermoresponsive emulsion, allowing us to measure the critical disjoining pressure as a function of temperature. The same method, combined with quantitative image analysis, also gives access to droplet-scale details of the coalescence process. We illustrate this by measuring temperature-dependent coalescence rates and by analysing the temperature-induced switching between two distinct microscopic mechanisms by which dense emulsions can destabilise to form a homogeneous oil phase.