Researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, in the physicochemical studies, which they call basic, studied a mixture of silicone oil and clay. A micrometer “blanket” of the clay particles is formed on the surface of the oil drops. However, if the electric field is brought close to such a mixture, the clay particles form a circle around the oil drops, separating the two substances.
The size of the circle can be adjusted with electrical parameters. A sort of lasting emulsion is formed. Short-lived ones are known in many forms, they often present a technological problem in medicine, food industry, large-scale technologies. Examples: mayonnaise, beauty and cosmetic creams. The oil mining and processing industry, both with classical techniques and in the shale reserves, has to do with emulsions.
And that is when the media life of the topic begins. The fact that the work is related to silicone oil and clays is forgotten, and what is described are the specific applications: in the production of food, in cosmetics, in medicine. Emulsions of a planned composition, without adding unnecessary reagents, can be made here and there. They can be used in the enrichment of oil, in the production of medications, cosmetics, in drug delivery methods, it can be an optical element controlled electrically. Of course, the examination of other fats and other substances forming an emulsion with them will be interesting. Certainly, many new patents can be anticipated.
I know very well this madness of questions about the possible applications (do not forget that such possibilities are reported in the applications for additional research funds). There is nothing you can explore just out of curiosity. There are no free lunches. Curiosity costs…
Prof. dr hab. Magdalena Fikus
Professor of molecular biology, a lecturer at many prestigious universities and a prominent science populariser. The co-creator, co-organiser and for many years the chairwoman of the Programme Board of the Science Festival in Warsaw. A member of the EUSCEA international association, the chairwoman of the Science Promotion Council at the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw. A member of the CSC Programme Board since the foundation of the Copernicus Science Centre.