(203g) Capillary Foams: A New Material Class Formed through the Synergistic Action of Particles and an Immiscible Liquid

Meredith, J. C., Georgia Institute of Technology
Behrens, S. H., Georgia Institute of Technology
Zhang, Y., Georgia Institute of Technology

Liquid foams are two-phase systems in which a large volume of gas is dispersed as bubbles in a continuous liquid phase. These foams are ubiquitous in nature. In addition, they are found in industrial applications, such as pharmaceutical formulation, food processing, wastewater treatment, construction, and cosmetics. Here a new class of foams is reported, obtained by frothing a suspension of colloidal particles in the presence of a small amount of an immiscible secondary liquid. A unique aspect of these foams, termed capillary foams, is the particle-mediated spreading of the minority liquid around the gas bubbles. The resulting mixed particle/liquid coating can stabilize bubbles against coalescence even when the particles alone cannot. The coated bubbles are further immobilized by entrapment in a network of excess particles connected by bridges of the minority liquid. Capillary foams were prepared with a diverse set of particle/liquid combinations to demonstrate the generality of the phenomenon. The observed foam stability correlates with the particle affinity for the liquid interface formed by spreading the minority liquid at the bubble surface. To illustrate some of the potential applications, we create vividly colored wet and dried foams, which are difficult to prepare using traditional methods, and load-bearing porous solids. The combined action of particles and immiscible secondary fluid confers exceptional stability to capillary foams and many options for functionalization, suggesting a wide range of possible applications.