Interfacial tension between a complex coacervate phase and its coexisting aqueous phase

E. Spruijt, J.H.B. Sprakel, M.A. Cohen Stuart, J. van der Gucht

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

150 Citations (Scopus)


Complex coacervation is the associative phase separation in a solution of positively and negatively charged macroions. Despite the widespread use of coacervation in e.g. micellar assemblies (complex coacervate core micelles), drug carriers and thin films, there is virtually no experimental data on the interfacial tension between such coacervate phases (polyelectrolyte complexes) and their coexisting aqueous phases or on the influence of salt thereon. In this paper we use colloidal probe AFM measurements of capillary adhesion forces to obtain the interfacial tension between a complex coacervate phase of two polyelectrolytes with high charge density and its coexisting aqueous phase. We find that the interfacial tension is of order 100 µN/m, decreases with increasing salt concentration and vanishes at the critical point. Interestingly, we find that the critical scaling exponent for the interfacial tension found in segregative demixing also applies here
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)172-178
JournalSoft Matter
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • atomic-force microscope
  • microencapsulation
  • thermodynamics
  • micelles
  • polymer
  • system


Dive into the research topics of 'Interfacial tension between a complex coacervate phase and its coexisting aqueous phase'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this