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Issue 19, 2013
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Mesoscopic modelling of frustration in microemulsions

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The swelling behaviour of water–oil microemulsions – considering a surfactant layer between oil and water – has been studied using a two level-cuts Gaussian random field approach based on the Helfrich formalism. Microstructures and scattering properties of microemulsions have been calculated for different amounts of oil (and water) for flexible and rigid microemulsions. When the stiffness, the spontaneous curvature of the interfacial film, and the surface to volume ratio of the immiscible fluids are varied, the microemulsion topology and morphology change in order to minimize the microemulsion free energy. Our simulations point out a change in the microemulsion morphology as a function of the surfactant film rigidity and the composition of oil, water and the surfactant. Locally lamellar structures are found for rigid microemulsions, whereas for more flexible ones, the connected-droplet and/or bicontinuous structures are preferred. Furthermore, we show that the microemulsion swelling versus the volume fraction gives a specific signature of the microemulsion microstructure. This allows for discriminating between different types of microemulsions: flexible, frustrated and unfrustrated (close to bi-liquid foams), and connected structures as molten hexagonal and cubic phases. The universal swelling behaviour is compared to different analytic expressions of Disordered Open Connected (DOC) models for the microemulsion swelling versus the volume fraction.

Graphical abstract: Mesoscopic modelling of frustration in microemulsions

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Publication details

The article was received on 08 Nov 2012, accepted on 15 Mar 2013 and first published on 18 Mar 2013

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C3CP43981J
Citation: Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2013,15, 7133-7141
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    Mesoscopic modelling of frustration in microemulsions

    M. Duvail, J. Dufrêche, L. Arleth and T. Zemb, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2013, 15, 7133
    DOI: 10.1039/C3CP43981J

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