Coalescence of oil droplets in an oil-in-water (O/W) emulsion was achieved with heating and optical trapping. Three types of O/W emulsions were prepared by adding a mixture of butanol and n-decane to an aqueous solution containing a cationic surfactant (cetyltrimethylammonium bromide, CTAB), an anionic surfactant (sodium dodecyl sulfate, SDS), or a neutral hydrophilic polymer (polyethylene glycol, PEG) as an emulsifier. Two oil droplets in the emulsions were randomly trapped in a square capillary tube by two laser beams in order to induce coalescence. Coalescence of the droplets could not be achieved at room temperature (25°C) regardless of the type of emulsifier. Conversely, the droplets prepared with PEG coalesced at a temperature higher than 30°C, although the droplets with ionic surfactants CTAB and SDS did not coalesce even at the elevated temperature due to their electrostatic repulsion. The size of the resultant coalesced droplet was consistent with that calculated from the size of the two droplets of oil, which indicated successful coalescence of the two droplets. We also found that the time required for the coalescence could be correlated with the temperature using an Arrhenius plot.
2017 by The Japan Society for Analytical Chemistry