FSL Soft Matter Dynamics – Particle STAbilised Emulsions and Foams (PASTA)

Science Objective

The FSL Soft Matter Dynamics - Particle STAbilised Emulsions and Foams (PASTA) (FSL Soft Matter Dynamics - PASTA) project aims to study the dynamics of droplets and their size evolution in emulsions. Experiments under microgravity conditions allow an accurate study and characterization of the action of additives (used to enhance or diminish emulsion stability) on the destabilization mechanisms of emulsions, based on the simplified conditions obtained by decoupling them from the buoyancy effects.


Delivery to the International Space Station via Northrop Grumman Commercial Resupply Services Mission 17.

Experiment Description

Emulsions are systems constituted by a liquid dispersed in the form of microscopic droplets inside a second liquid (matrix), with the two liquids being mutually immiscible. Emulsions are thermodynamically unstable and tend to separate into the liquids composing them under the effect of mechanisms similar to those of foams: droplet aggregation, coalescence and coarsening (Ostwald ripening). Emulsion stabilization (or destabilization, when needed) is obtained by the use of specific surface-active additives which modifies the chemico-physical properties of the droplet interface, hindering (or fostering, where destabilization is needed) the effects of the above mechanisms.

Earth Applications

Emulsions have important transversal application relevance in many areas: foods, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, oil and fuels, paints and coatings, chemical processing, materials (ex., solid foams are also made from emulsions) and nanomaterials (ex., nanocapsules), just to mention the most important. Understanding their behavior (formations, stability, dynamics) will drive the development of better, greener, and healthier emulsion/foam-based products and processes.

Related Links

Space Station Research Explorer