Crystal comets

Project summary

We have found fascinating behaviour of crystallising emulsions droplets in the past where the crystals that form inside can be ejected by the droplets because of interfacial forces. This can be controlled and used to make crystals smaller or larger than the parent droplet and is not fully understood. This project will examine models of this type of behaviour and make measurements to compare and validate their predictions. It will also explore applications of this phenomenon, such as purifying crystalline materials, structuring foods, and making uniquely-shaped colloids. It will also seek to understand the limits of the phenomena by measuring relative rates using microscopy. Below are some articles to read for more background if you have questions.

  1. Spicer, P. & Hartel, R. Crystal comets: Dewetting during emulsion droplet crystallization. Australian Journal of Chemistry 58, 655 (2005).
  2. Ergun, Roja, Richard W. Hartel, and Patrick T. Spicer. “Kinetic effects on interfacial partitioning of fat crystals.” Food Structure 5 (2015): 1-9.

Project objectives

  • map the dewetting behavior of several practical emulsions
  • couple the process with microfluidic flows to synthesize shaped particles continuously
  • apply the principles to the creation of structural colouring and drug delivery