Fat crystallisation at oil-water interfaces

M. Douaire*, V. Di Bari, J. E. Norton, A. Sullo, P. Lillford, I. T. Norton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


This review focuses on recent advances in the understanding of lipid crystallisation at or in the vicinity of an interface in emulsified systems and the consequences regarding stability, structure and thermal behaviour. Amphiphilic molecules such as emulsifiers are preferably adsorbed at the interface. Such molecules are known for their ability to interact with triglycerides under certain conditions. In the same manner that inorganic crystals grown on an organic matrix see their nucleation, morphology and structure controlled by the underlying matrix, recent studies report a templating effect linked to the presence of emulsifiers at the oil/water interface. Emulsifiers affect fat crystallisation and fat crystal behaviour in numerous ways, acting as impurities seeding nucleation and, in some cases, retarding or enhancing polymorphic transitions towards more stable forms. This understanding is of crucial importance for the design of stable structures within emulsions, regardless of whether the system is oil or water continuous. In this paper, crystallisation mechanisms are briefly described, as well as recent technical advances that allow the study of crystallisation and crystal forms. Indeed, the study of the interface and of its effect on lipid crystallisation in emulsions has been limited for a long time by the lack of in-situ investigative techniques. This review also highlights reported interfacial effects in food and pharmaceutical emulsion systems. These effects are strongly linked to the presence of emulsifiers at the interface and their effects on crystallisation kinetics, and crystal morphology and stability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalAdvances in Colloid and Interface Science
Early online date30 Oct 2013
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Emulsion
  • Fat crystal
  • Heterogeneous nucleation
  • Interfacial crystallisation
  • Templating

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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