Issue 11, 2024

Freezing-induced topological transition of double-emulsion


Solidification of complex liquids is pertinent to numerous natural and industrial processes. Here, we examine the freezing of a W/O/W double-emulsion, i.e., water-in-oil compound droplets dispersed in water. We show that the solidification of such hierarchical emulsions can trigger a topological transition; for example, in our case, we observe the transition from the stable W/O/W state to a (frozen) O/W single-emulsion configuration. Strikingly, this transition is characterised by sudden expulsion of the inner water drop from the encapsulating oil droplet. We propose that this topological transition is triggered by the freezing of the encapsulating oil droplet from the outside in, putting tension on the inner water drop thus, destabilizing the W/O/W configuration. Using high-speed imaging we characterize the destabilization process. Interestingly, we find that below a critical size of the inner drop, Rin,crit ≈ 19 μm, the topological transition does not occur any more and the double-emulsion remains stable, in line with our interpretation.

Graphical abstract: Freezing-induced topological transition of double-emulsion

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Article information

Article type
07 Dec 2023
16 Feb 2024
First published
22 Feb 2024
This article is Open Access
Creative Commons BY license

Soft Matter, 2024,20, 2491-2495

Freezing-induced topological transition of double-emulsion

J. G. Meijer, P. Kant and D. Lohse, Soft Matter, 2024, 20, 2491 DOI: 10.1039/D3SM01657A

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