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Langmuir. 2006 Dec 19;22(26):10983-8.

Stabilization of foams with inorganic colloidal particles.

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Nonmetallic Inorganic Materials, ETH Zürich, Wolfgang-Pauli-Strasse 10, CH 8093 Zürich, Switzerland.


Wet foams are used in many important technologies either as end or intermediate products. However, the thermodynamic instability of wet foams leads to undesired bubble coarsening over time. Foam stability can be drastically improved by using particles instead of surfactants as foam stabilizers, since particles tend to adsorb irreversibly at the air-water interface. Recently, we presented a novel method for the preparation of high-volume particle-stabilized foams which show neither bubble growth nor drainage over more than 4 days. The method is based on the in-situ hydrophobization of initially hydrophilic particles to enable their adsorption on the surface of air bubbles. In-situ hydrophobization is accomplished through the adsorption of short-chain amphiphiles on the particle surface. In this work, we illustrate how this novel method can be applied to particles with various surface chemistries. For that purpose, the functional group of the amphiphilic molecule was tailored according to the surface chemistry of the particles to be used as foam stabilizers. Short-chain carboxylic acids, alkyl gallates, and alkylamines were shown to be appropriate amphiphiles to in-situ hydrophobize the surface of different inorganic particles. Ultrastable wet foams of various chemical compositions were prepared using these amphiphiles. The simplicity and versatility of this approach is expected to aid the formulation of stable wet foams for a variety of applications in materials manufacturing, food, cosmetics, and oil recovery, among others.


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