Compressing a spinodal surface at fixed area: bijels in a centrifuge
Bicontinuous interfacially jammed emulsion gels (bijels) are solid-stabilised emulsions with two inter-penetrating continuous phases. Employing the method of centrifugal compression we find that macroscopically the bijel yields at relatively low angular acceleration. Both continuous phases escape from the top of the structure, making any compression immediately irreversible. Microscopically, the bijel becomes anisotropic with the domains aligned perpendicular to the compression direction which inhibits further liquid expulsion; this contrasts strongly with the sedimentation behaviour of colloidal gels. The original structure can, however, be preserved close to the top of the sample and thus the change to an anisotropic structure suggests internal yielding. Any air bubbles trapped in the bijel are found to aid compression by forming channels aligned parallel to the compression direction which provide a route for liquid to escape.