Nonionic oil-in-water microemulsions: the effect of oil type on phase behaviour

W. Warisnoicharoen, Alison Lansley, Jayne M. Lawrence

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The formation of oil-in-water (o:w) microemulsions stabilized by the nonionic surfactants, polyoxyethylene-10-dodecyl ether, polyoxyethylene-10-oleyl ether, N,N-dimethyldodecylamine-N-oxide and N,N-dimethyloleylamine-N-oxide and containing a variety of pharmaceutically acceptable oils, namely ethyl butyrate, ethyl caprylate, ethyl oleate and the triglycerides, soybean oil, Miglyol 812 and tributyrin, has been examined at 298 K. The effect on microemulsion formation of replacing water with phosphate buffered saline (PBS) and complete PBS has been established. In addition, the effect of changing temperature (from 298 to 310 K) on the phase behaviour of microemulsions formulated using PBS as continuous phase has been determined. Although some small differences in phase behaviour were noted when altering the continuous phase, the greatest difference in phase behaviour was observed when changing the experimental temperature, particularly for microemulsions stabilized by polyoxyethylene-10-oleyl ether. Regardless of the temperature and aqueous phase used, however the larger molecular volume oils (soybean oil, Miglyol 812 and ethyl oleate) were solubilized to a lower extent than the smaller molecular volume oils (namely, ethyl butyrate and ethyl caprylate). The only exception to this rule was when polyoxyethylene-10-oleyl ether was used as surfactant, particularly at 298 K, where it was the larger molecular volume oils that were solubilized to the greatest extent. Cloud point:phase inversion temperature experiments suggested that the higher molecular volume oils were incorporated into the microemulsions prepared using the polyoxyethylene-based surfactants in a different way than the smaller molecular volume oils and suggest that the smaller molecular volume oils are acting in much the same way as a cosurfactant in that they interchelate with their hydrophilic group interspersed in the surfactant head group region. As N,N-dimethyldodecylamine-N-oxide does not exhibit a cloud point it was not possible to determine the mode of oil incorporation in microemulsions prepared with this surfactant. © 2000 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-27
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Pharmaceutics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 30 Mar 2000


  • nonionic oil-in-water microemulsions
  • polyoxyethylene ether surfactants
  • N,N-dimethyl-alkylamine-N-oxide surfactants


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