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Chemphyschem. 2005 Feb;6(2):209-16.

Nanoparticles and nanocapsules created using the Ouzo effect: spontaneous emulisification as an alternative to ultrasonic and high-shear devices.

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  • 1Laboratoire de Chiniie Macromolécu1aire UMP 5076 CNRS/ENSCM 8 rue de l'Ecole normale 34296 Montpellier, France.


The preparation of polymeric particles and capsules by means of spontaneous droplet formation and subsequent polymer precipitation or synthesis is well-known. However, spontaneous emulsification is a phenomenon that has often been erroneously interpreted. This Minireview provides new insights into the preparation of metastable liquid dispersions by homogeneous liquid-liquid nucleation, and is based primarily on a recent study by Vitale and Katz (Langmuir, 2003, 19, 4105-4110). This spontaneous emulsification, which they named the Ouzo effect, occurs upon pouring, into water, a mixture of a totally water-miscible solvent and a hydrophobic oil--and optionally some water--thus generating long-lived small droplets, which are formed even though no surfactant is present. Herein, we review and reinterpret the most relevant publications on the synthesis of a variety of dispersions (pseudolatexes, silicone emulsions, biodegradable polymeric nanocapsules, etc.), which we believe have actually been synthesized using the Ouzo effect. The Ouzo effect may also become a substitute for high-shear techniques, which, to date have only been of limited utility on industrial scales.


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