Acta Physico-Chimica Sinica ›› 2020, Vol. 36 ›› Issue (10): 1910005.doi: 10.3866/PKU.WHXB201910005

Special Issue: Frontiers in Colloid and Interface Chemistry

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Particle-Stabilized Interfaces and Their Interactions at Interfaces

Guanqing Sun1, Zonglin Yi2, To Ngai1,2,*()   

  1. 1 The Key Laboratory of Synthetic and Biological Colloids, Ministry of Education, Jiangnan University, Wuxi 214122, Jiangsu Province, P. R. China
    2 Department of Chemistry, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, NT, Hong Kong SAR, P. R. China
  • Received:2019-10-07 Accepted:2019-12-31 Published:2020-06-11
  • Contact: To Ngai
  • Supported by:
    the National Natural Science Foundation of China(21703085);the National Natural Science Foundation of China(21972057);the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities of China(JUS 1042050205182110)


Particle-stabilized dispersions such as emulsions, foams and bubbles are catching increasing attentions across a number of research areas. The adsorption mechanism and role of these colloidal particles in stabilizing the oil-water or gas-water interfaces and how these particles interact at interfaces are vital to the practical use of these dispersion systems. Although there have been intensive investigations, problems associated with the stabilization mechanisms and particle-particle interactions at interfaces still remain to explore. In this paper, we first systematically review the historical understanding of particle-stabilized emulsions or bubbles and then give an overview of the most important and well-established progress in the understanding of particle-stabilized systems, including emulsions, foams and liquid marbles. The particle-adsorption phenomena have long been realized and been discussed in academic paper for more than one century and a quantitative model was proposed in the early 1980s. The theory can successfully explain the adsorption of solid particles onto interface from energy reduction approaches. The stability of emulsions and foams can be readily correlated to the wettability of the particles towards the two phases. And extensive researches on emulsion stability and various strategies have been developed to prepared dispersion systems with a certain trigger such as pH and temperature. After that, we discuss recent development of the interactions between particles when they are trapped at the interface and highlight open questions in this field. There exists a huge gap between theoretical approaches and experimental results on the interactions of particles adsorbed at interfaces due to demanding experimental devices and skills. In practice, it is customary to use flat surfaces/interfaces as model surfaces to investigate the particle-particle at interfaces although most of the time interfaces are produced with a certain curvature. It is shown that the introduction of particles onto interfaces can generate charges at the interfaces which could possibly account for the long range electrostatic interactions. Finally, we illustrate that particle-stabilized dispersions have been found wide applications in many fields and applications such as microcapsules, food, biomedical carriers, and dry water. One of the most investigated areas is the microencapsulation of actives based on Pickering emulsion templates. The particles adsorbed at the interface can serve as interfacial stabilizers as well as constituting components of shells of colloidal microcapsules. Emulsions stabilized by solid particles derived from natural and bio-related sources are promising platforms to be applied in food related industries. Emulsion systems stabilized by solid particles of the w/w (water-in-water) feature are discussed. This special type of emulsion is attracting increasing attentions due to their all water features. Besides of oil-water interface, particle stabilized air-water interface share similar stabilization mechanism and several applications reported in the literature are subsequently discussed. We hope that this paper can encourage more scientists to engage in the studies of particle-stabilized interfaces and more novel applications can be proposed based on this mechanism

Key words: Interface, Particle adsorption, Pickering emulsions, Particle-particle interaction, Dry waters, Microcapsules