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Langmuir. 2005 Jan 18;21(2):569-77.

Emulsified microemulsions and oil-containing liquid crystalline phases.

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Institute of Chemistry, University of Graz, Graz, Austria, and Nestlé Research Center, Lausanne, Switzerland.


Self-assembled nanostructures, such as inverted type mesophases of the cubic or hexagonal geometry or reverse microemulsion phases, can be dispersed using a polymeric stabilizer, such as the PEO-PPO-PEO triblock copolymer Pluronic F127. The particles, which are described in the present study, are based on monolinolein (MLO)-water mixtures. When adding tetradecane (TC) to the MLO-water-F127 system at constant temperature, the internal nanostructure of the kinetically stabilized particles transforms from a Pn3m (cubosomes) to a H2 (hexosomes) and to a water-in-oil (W/O, L2) microemulsion phase (emulsified microemulsion (EME)). To our knowledge, this is the first time that the formation of stable emulsified microemulsion (EME) systems has been described and proven to exist even at room temperature. The same structural transitions can also be induced by increasing temperature at constant tetradecane content. The internal nanostructure of the emulsified particles is probed using small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) and cryogenic transmission electron microscopy (cryo-TEM). At each investigated composition and temperature, the internal structure of the dispersions is observed to be identical to the corresponding structure of the nondispersed, fully hydrated bulk phase. This is clear evidence for the fact that the self-assembled inner particle nanostructure is preserved during the dispersion procedure. In addition, the internal structure of the particles is in thermodynamic equilibrium with the surrounding water phase. The internal structure of the dispersed, kinetically stabilized particles is a "real" and stable self-assembled nanostructure. To emphasize this fact, we denoted this new family of colloidal particles (cubosomes, hexosomes, and EMEs) as "ISASOMES" (internally self-assembled particles or "somes").


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