Faculté des sciences

Spinodal decomposition in a food colloid–biopolymer mixture: evidence for a linear regime

Bhat, Suresh ; Tuinier, Remco ; Schurtenberger, Peter

In: Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter, 2006, vol. 18, p. L339–L346

We investigate phase separation and structural evolution in a complex food colloid (casein micelles) and biopolymer (xanthan) mixture using small-angle light scattering. We demonstrate that phase separation is induced by a depletion mechanism, and that the resulting coexistence curve can be described by osmotic equilibrium theory for mixtures of colloids and polymer chains in a background... Plus

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    Summary
    We investigate phase separation and structural evolution in a complex food colloid (casein micelles) and biopolymer (xanthan) mixture using small-angle light scattering. We demonstrate that phase separation is induced by a depletion mechanism, and that the resulting coexistence curve can be described by osmotic equilibrium theory for mixtures of colloids and polymer chains in a background solvent, taking into account interactions between the polymer chains in the excluded volume limit. We show that the light scattering pattern of an unstable mixture exhibits the typical behaviour of spinodal decomposition, and we are able to confirm the validity of dynamic similarity scaling. We find three distinct regimes (initial or linear, intermediate and transition stage) for the decomposition kinetics that differ in the time dependence of the peak position of the structure factor. In particular we find clear evidence for the existence of an initial linear regime, where the peak position remains constant and the amplitude grows. The existence of spinodal-like decomposition and the validity of universal scaling in the intermediate and transition stages have been found in previous studies of phase separation in attractive colloidal suspensions. However, to our knowledge the initial linear regime has never been observed in colloidal suspensions, and we attribute this at least partly to the effect of hydrodynamic interactions which are efficiently screened in our system due to the fact that the measurements were performed at high polymer concentrations, i.e. in the semi-dilute regime.