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Structure-Property Relations in Aqueous Foam and Their Control on a Molecular Level

Project description

Probing the multiscale structure-property relationships of foam liquid-gas interfaces

Foams, dispersions of gas bubbles in a liquid, have numerous applications, including insulation, packaging and cushioning. Enhancing the control over foam’s molecular structure and properties relies on intricate knowledge of the phenomena at the liquid-gas interface. These include electrostatic interactions that can be modified by adding different mixtures of surface-active molecules, such as proteins, surfactants and polyelectrolytes, and by adjusting electrolyte properties. The European Research Council-funded SUPERFOAM project will characterise the molecular structures and dynamics of aqueous interfaces in foams using nonlinear optical spectroscopy and other surface-sensitive probes. Insight will be used to predict structure-property relationships at larger length scales, enhancing tailor-made design for functionality.


Foams are of enormous importance as we find them in many technological relevant applications and food products. Foams as hierarchical materials are dominated by the arrangement and distri-bution of gas bubbles on a macroscopic scale, as well as by thickness and composition of lamella on a mesoscopic scale. Liquid-gas interfaces are, however, the building block of foam with over-whelming importance as their molecular properties easily dominate hierarchical elements on larger length scales. In order to formulate foam with specific properties, its structure must be controlled at the molecular level of a liquid-gas interface. Here, the molecular composition, molecular order and interactions such as electrostatics dominate, and thus must be addressed with molecular level probes that can provide access to both interfacial solvent and solute molecules. Specifically, mo-lecular structures of aqueous interfaces can be modified by adding different mixtures of surface active molecules such as proteins, surfactants and polyelectrolytes, and by adjusting electrolyte properties. This is achieved by varying pH, introducing ions at different ionic strengths as well as by changing viscosities. Such model systems will be characterized with nonlinear optical spectroscopy amongst other surface sensitive probes. The gained information will be used to deduce properties of structures on larger length scales such as lamella, bubbles in a bulk liquid - as a precursor of foam - and finally macroscopic foam. For each length scale, experiments will be performed to gain access to molecular buildings blocks at liquid-gas interfaces and their effects on other hierarchical elements. These experiments thus provide essential information on foam stability and bubble coalescence, they can be used to verify structure-property relationships and to advance our understanding of foam on a molecular basis.



Net EU contribution
€ 1 147 569,96
Schlossplatz 2
48149 Muenster

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Nordrhein-Westfalen Münster Münster, Kreisfreie Stadt
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00

Beneficiaries (2)