Professor B. P. (Bernie) Binks of the University of Hull has worked on fluid-fluid interfaces, emulsions, microemulsions and foams throughout his career, covering a very wide range of territory and producing an impressive body of accessible work of lasting value. His early work concerned surfactant-stabilised systems in the main and then, about a decade ago, he turned his attention to particles at interfaces and particle-stabilized systems. It is for his work in this latter area that the award has been made, his excellent and important work on surfactants and surfactant-stabilised systems not withstanding.
Even though the first scientific papers on particle-stabilised emulsions (Ramsden – Pickering emulsions) appeared a century ago, these systems were then largely neglected by academe thereafter, whereas industry saw them as a problem by and large, as it did particle stabilized foams. All that has changed of late. Particles-at-interfaces is now an important and rapidly growing area of soft matter science and particle-stabilised emulsions and foams now find application in areas as diverse as cosmetics and metallurgy. Professor Binks can take much of the credit for this upsurge of interest and he remains at the forefront of the subject, as can be judged from the following recent papers,
1. Phase inversion of particle-stabilised perfume oil-water emulsions: experiment and theory, Binks, BP; Fletcher, PDI; Holt, BL; et al., Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics Volume: 12 Issue: 38 Pages: 11954-11966 (2010).
2. Inversion of ‘dry water’ to aqueous foam on addition of surfactant, Binks, BP; Johnson, AJ; Rodrigues, JA, Soft Matter Volume: 6 Issue: 1 Pages: 126-135 (2010).
3. Aqueous foams stabilized solely by particles, Stocco, A; Rio, E; Binks, BP; et al., Soft Matter Volume: 7 Issue: 4 Pages: 1260-1267 (2011).
4. Phase inversion of particle-stabilized materials from foams to dry water, Binks, BP; Murakami, R., Nature Materials Volume: 5 Issue: 11 Pages: 865-869 (2006).
In the first paper listed above, Binks et al. exploited the chemical diversity of a subset of common fragrance oils in order to study systematically the effect of oil polarity on emulsion stability and phase inversion. The experimental work is of very high quality, as one has come to expect from Hull, and the team were able to develop a thermodynamic model which explains and rationalises the data entirely. The work advances our fundamental understanding of Ramsden-Pickering emulsions and it provides clear messages and teachings of technological significance also. Anyone wishing to improve the impact and clarity of their presentation of their work could do worse than read paper one for that reason alone. The fourth paper on “Dry Water”, a seemingly dry powder of very high water content, attracted substantial attention from the scientific and public media when it first appeared. The second and third papers describe subsequent related investigations.
For those wishing to find out more, a comprehensive list of papers can be found at Prof. Binks web-site. There is also book on particles at interfaces, published in 2006 and co-edited with Tommy Horozov, is available from CUP.