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Soft Matter and Biological Physics

Eur. Phys. J. E 4, 223-232

Swelling kinetics of the onion phase

H. Diamant1, 2, 3 and M.E. Cates2

1  School of Physics & Astronomy, Raymond & Beverly Sackler Faculty of Exact Sciences, Tel Aviv University, 69978 Tel Aviv, Israel
2  Department of Physics & Astronomy, The University of Edinburgh, King's Buildings, Mayfield Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JZ, UK
3  The James Franck Institute, The University of Chicago, 5640 South Ellis Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637, USA


(Received 6 September 2000)

A theory is presented for the behavior of an array of multi-lamellar vesicles (the onion phase) upon addition of solvent. A unique feature of this system is the possibility to sustain pressure gradients by tension in the lamellae. Tension enables the onions to remain stable beyond the unbinding point of a flat lamellar stack. The model accounts for various concentration profiles and interfaces developing in the onion as it swells. In particular, densely packed "onion cores"are shown to appear, as observed in experiments. The formation of interfaces and onion cores may represent an unusual example of stabilization of curved interfaces in confined geometry.

83.70.Hq - Heterogeneous liquids: suspensions, dispersions, emulsions, pastes, slurries, foams, block copolymers, etc..
87.16.Dg - Membranes, bilayers, and vesicles.
82.65.Dp - Thermodynamics of surfaces and interfaces.

© EDP Sciences, Società Italiana di Fisica, Springer-Verlag 2001