Capillary condensation and gelling of microemulsions with clay additives


The capillary condensation in bicontinuous microemulsions takes place when two parallel surfaces are narrowed that result in a completely lamellar microemulsion. We expected that this phase transition is also observable when the amount of hydrophilic surfaces from clay particles is raised, because hydrophilic surfaces induce lamellar ordering locally. Using small angle neutron scattering, the structure of microemulsions was observed as a function of clay content. The critical concentration is indicated by discontinuous structural changes and depends on the platelet diameter and is explained by the free energy of the platelets competing with the fluctuating medium. The gel phase transition is observed in the spectroscopic measurements where the diffusion motion is widely suppressed in the gel phase, but otherwise superimposes with the membrane undulations.
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