Many types of colloids, including nanoemulsions, which contain sub-100 nm droplets, are dispersed in molecular and micellar solutions, especially surfactant solutions that confer stability. Since it would be desirable to measure the droplet volume fraction and surfactant concentration C of a nanoemulsion non-destructively, and since the droplet and surfactant structures are significantly smaller than the shortest wavelengths of visible light, optical refractometry could provide a simple and potentially useful approach. By diluting a silicone oil-in-water nanoemulsion having an unknown and C with pure water, measuring its refractive index n(,C) using an Abbé refractometer, and fitting the result using a prediction for n that treats the nanoemulsion as an effective medium, we show that and C can be deduced accurately over a relatively wide range of compositions. Moreover, we generalize this approach to other types of nanoemulsions in which a molecular constituent partitions in varying degrees between the dispersed and the continuous phases.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry