Responsive drop method: quantitative in situ determination of surfactant effectiveness using reconfigurable Janus emulsions†
Characterization of surfactant effectiveness and thus an evaluation of their performance in a wide range of emulsion technologies requires a precise determination of key parameters including their critical micelle concentrations as well as their ability to lower the surface tension at interfaces. In this study, we describe a new approach to quantify marginal variations in interfacial tension of surfactant stabilized fluid interfaces. The method is based on a unique chemical-morphological coupling inside bi-phasic oil-in-water Janus emulsions that undergo dynamic morphological transitions in response to changes in the surfactant type, concentration, ratio, and configuration. Variations in Janus droplet morphologies are readily monitored in situ using a simple side-view imaging setup, resulting in a fast, convenient, cost-effective, time-, and sample-saving technique for the characterization of classical surfactant systems. In addition, the reported method facilitates monitoring of triggered changes in surfactant effectiveness, e.g. invoked by external triggers, and thus proves particularly useful for the in situ analysis of stimuli-responsive surfactants and emulsions.