Application of X-ray Microcomputed Tomography for the Static and Dynamic Characterization of the Microstructure of Oleofoams


Oleofoams are a novel, versatile, and biocompatible soft material that finds application in drug, cosmetic or nutraceuticals delivery. However, due to their temperature-sensitive and opaque nature, the characterization of oleofoams’ microstructure is challenging. Here, synchrotron X-ray microcomputed tomography and radiography are applied to study the microstructure of a triglyceride-based oleofoam. These techniques enable non-destructive, quantitative, 3D measurements of native samples to determine the thermodynamic and kinetic behavior of oleofoams at different stages of their life cycle. During processing, a constant bubble size distribution is reached after few minutes of shearing, while the number of bubbles incorporated keeps increasing until saturation of the continuous phase. Low amounts of solid triglycerides in oleofoams allow faster aeration and a more homogeneous microstructure but lower thermodynamic stability, with bubble disproportionation and shape relaxation over time. Radiography shows that heating causes Ostwald ripening and coalescence of bubbles, with an increase of their diameter and sphericity.
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