Research

Making Mixed Emulsions

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Ever tried to mix oil and vinegar? Anyone who has ever dealt with salad dressings knows the difficulty of evenly distributing immiscible fluids; the key is to shake them and create an emulsion, where droplets of one fluid are distributed throughout another. In this video, researchers create a double emulsion–oil in water in oil–without touching the two fluids. First they suspend a drop of water on a wire and then coat it with oil.  Below, they place a bath of silicone oil, which they vibrate.  When the oil-coated droplet falls onto the bath, it bounces on the surface rather than coalescing because a thin layer of air–constantly refreshed due to the vibration of the surface–separates the droplet from the bath. When the amplitude of the vibration is large enough, the oil coating penetrates the water during the bounce, leaving behind a tiny droplet and creating the emulsion. (Video credit: D. Terwange et al; Research paper)

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