Document Type


Subject Area(s)

Engineering, Mechanics of Materials, Engineering Physics


This work describes the design and implementation of a new instrument, called the thin film impedance analyzer, which measures the rate of drainage of thin oil films. The instrument forms an oil film by elevating a planar oil–water interface into a water drop hanging from a stainless steel capillary tube immersed in the oil. The instrument measures the magnitude of the impedance of the matter between the capillary tube and a screen electrode immersed in the lower water phase. Under appropriate conditions, the capacitance of the oil film dominates the impedance. The instrument records the increase in the magnitude of the admittance associated with the draining and thinning of the oil film. The features of the drainage curves vary considerably with the type, amount, and location of surfactants in the oil and water phases, as well as with user-specified values of drop volume, drop equilibration time, and extent of drop compression. For this reason, the instrument has utility as a screening tool for selecting surfactants for emulsion formulations. Potential future uses include accelerated prediction of emulsion stability and extraction of oil–water interfacial rheological parameters.