Electric-field-induced rupture of polymer-stabilized oil films

M. R. Anklam, D. A. Saville, Robert Krafft Prud'homme

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Water-in-oil emulsions stabilized by polymeric surfactants are robust, but the reasons for their stability are poorly understood. We studied oil films stabilized by a comb-graft copolymer having a poly(siloxane) backbone and poly(ethylene oxide)/poly (propylene oxide) and C16 grafts (Abil EM-90) with a total number-average molecular weight of 62,000. Electric fields imposed in the aqueous phases on either side of the oil films were used to induce rapid rupture, and the response of the film was monitored using optical interference and electrical conductance measurements. Film thickness values ranged between 30 and 50 nm and rupture at field strength values between 2 x 107 and 5 x 107 V/m. Unexpectedly, in some cases, stable pores were formed and the films became electrically conductive. Often the pores persisted for more than 20 min after the voltage had been removed. Since the current was independent of film area, very few pores are involved in conduction. This behavior is similar to that found in lipid films; however, the persistence time is greater for polymer-stabilized films. Because the films are thick, it is possible that pores are formed by multimolecular self-assembly as with pore-forming proteins. Polymer purification also influenced film stability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)957-964
Number of pages8
JournalColloid and Polymer Science
Issue number10
StatePublished - Jan 1 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry
  • Materials Chemistry


  • Coalescence
  • Electroporation
  • Emulsions
  • Graft copolymer
  • Thin films


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