Alison L, Rühs PA, Tervoort E, Teleki A, Zanini M, Isa L, Studart AR
Langmuir 32 (50) 13446-13457 [2016-12-20; online 2016-12-09]
Edible solid particles constitute an attractive alternative to surfactants as stabilizers of food-grade emulsions for products requiring a long-term shelf life. Here, we report on a new approach to stabilize edible emulsions using silica nanoparticles modified by noncovalently bound chitosan oligomers. Electrostatic modification with chitosan increases the hydrophobicity of the silica nanoparticles and favors their adsorption at the oil-water interface. The interfacial adsorption of the chitosan-modified silica particles enables the preparation of oil-in-water emulsions with small droplet sizes of a few micrometers through high-pressure homogenization. This approach enables the stabilization of food-grade emulsions for more than 3 months. The emulsion structure and stability can be effectively tuned by controlling the extent of chitosan adsorption on the silica particles. Bulk and interfacial rheology are used to highlight the two stabilization mechanisms involved. Low chitosan concentration (1 wt % with respect to silica) leads to the formation of a viscoelastic film of particles adsorbed at the oil-water interface, enabling Pickering stabilization of the emulsion. By contrast, a network of agglomerated particles formed around the droplets is the predominant stabilization mechanism of the emulsions at higher chitosan content (5 wt % with respect to silica). These two pathways against droplet coalescence and coarsening open up different possibilities to engineer the long-term stabilization of emulsions for food applications.