Evidence of coexisting microemulsion droplets in oil-in-water emulsions revealed by 2D DOSY 1 H NMR

Tarek S. Awad, Dalal Asker, Laurence S. Romsted

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Optimizing the macroscopic properties, shelf-life and stability of emulsion products requires a better understanding of the microstructural characteristics such as the type (nano, micro and macro) and the relative distribution of components (i.e., oil and surfactant) within the emulsion droplets. We used Diffusion-Ordered NMR Spectroscopy (DOSY NMR) to evaluate these characteristics in model oil-in-water emulsion containing Tween 80 and medium chain triglycerides (MCT). At low MCT concentrations, the solutions were transparent but from 1 to 5 wt% MCT, they became translucent then opaque. 1 wt% MCT was the upper boundary for the appearance of nanoemulsion phase. From the decays of the chemical shift signals of MCT and Tween 80, the DOSY results clearly demonstrate that the self-diffusion coefficients (D) are dependent on oil concentration. Small microemulsion droplets of almost uniform size (d = 12–22 nm) coexist with two sets of large nanoemulsion (d < 200 nm) and emulsion (d > 200 nm) droplets. The large droplets increase significantly in size with increasing MCT. The most striking result is the clear evidence for the presence of microemulsion droplets of nearly uniform size in the aqueous phase from below to above the nanoemulsion transition concentration at 1 wt% MCT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)83-92
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Colloid And Interface Science
StatePublished - Mar 15 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Biomaterials
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


  • Chemical shift
  • DOSY
  • Food emulsion
  • MCT
  • Micelles
  • Microemulsion
  • NMR
  • Nanoemulsions
  • Self-diffusion
  • Tween 80


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