Interfacial adsorption and surfactant release characteristics of magnetically functionalized halloysite nanotubes for responsive emulsions

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Magnetically responsive oil-in-water emulsions are effectively stabilized by a halloysite nanotube supported superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticle system. The attachment of the magnetically functionalized halloysite nanotubes at the oil-water interface imparts magnetic responsiveness to the emulsion and provides a steric barrier to droplet coalescence leading to emulsions that are stabilized for extended periods. Interfacial structure characterization by cryogenic scanning electron microscopy reveals that the nanotubes attach at the oil-water interface in a side on-orientation. The tubular structure of the nanotubes is exploited for the encapsulation and release of surfactant species that are typical of oil spill dispersants such as dioctyl sulfosuccinate sodium salt and polyoxyethylene (20) sorbitan monooleate. The magnetically responsive halloysite nanotubes anchor to the oil-water interface stabilizing the interface and releasing the surfactants resulting in reduction in the oil-water interfacial tension. The synergistic adsorption of the nanotubes and the released surfactants at the oil-water interface results in oil emulsification into very small droplets (less than 20 μm). The synergy of the unique nanotubular morphology and interfacial activity of halloysite with the magnetic properties of iron oxide nanoparticles has potential applications in oil spill dispersion, magnetic mobilization and detection using magnetic fields.

Publication Title

Journal of Colloid and Interface Science