Emulsifiers play a key role in the stabilization of foam bubbles. In food foams, biopolymers such as proteins are contributing to long-term stability through several effects such as increasing bulk viscosity and the formation of viscoelastic interfaces. Recent studies have identified promising new stabilizers for (food) foams and emulsions, for instance biological particles derived from water-soluble or water-insoluble proteins, (modified) starch as well as chitin. Microfluidic platforms could provide a valuable tool to study foam formation on the single-bubble level, yielding mechanistic insights into the formation and stabilization (as well as destabilization) of foams stabilized by these new stabilizers. Yet, the recent developments in microfluidic technology have mainly focused on emulsions rather than foams. Microfluidic devices have been up-scaled (to some extent) for large-scale emulsion production, and also designed as investigative tools to monitor interfaces at the (sub)millisecond time scale. In this review, we summarize the current state of the art in droplet microfluidics (and, where available, bubble microfluidics), and provide a perspective on the applications for (food) foams. Microfluidic investigations into foam formation and stability are expected to aid in optimization of stabilizer selection and production conditions for food foams, as well as provide a platform for (large-scale) production of monodisperse foams.
- Dynamic surface tension