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Dispersion (chemistry) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Dispersion (chemistry)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A dispersion is a system in which particles are dispersed in a continuous phase of a different composition (or state). See also emulsion. A dispersion is classified in a number of different ways, including how large the particles are in relation to the particles of the continuous phase, whether or not precipitation occurs, and the presence of Brownian motion. There are three main types of dispersions: Coarse dispersion (Suspension) Colloid Solution

Types of dispersions
Dissolved Solution: Colloid: Dispersed or Continuous Homogeneous phase between 1 dispersed medium mixture: Dissolved nanometer and 1 phase phase < 1 nanometer micrometer Gas Liquid Solid Gas Liquid Gas Gas Gas Liquid Liquid Gas mixture: air (oxygen and other gases in nitrogen) None None Solution: oxygen in water Solution: alcoholic beverages None Aerosol: fog, mist, vapor, hair sprays Solid aerosol: smoke, cloud, air particulates Coarse dispersion (Suspension): Heterogeneous mixture: Dispersed phase > 1 micrometer None Aerosol Solid aerosol: dust

Foam: whipped cream, Foam shaving cream Emulsion: miniemulsion, microemulsion Sol: pigmented ink, blood Solid foam: aerogel, styrofoam, pumice Emulsion: milk, mayonnaise, hand cream Suspension: mud (soil, clay or silt particles are suspended in water), chalk powder suspended in water Foam: dry sponge Wet sponge Gravel, granite



Solution: sugar in water Solution: hydrogen in metals

Gas Liquid Solid

Solid Solid Solid

Solution: amalgam Gel: agar, gelatin, (mercury in gold), silicagel, opal hexane in paraffin wax Solution: alloys, plasticizers in plastics Solid sol: cranberry glass



Dispersion (chemistry) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Structure and Properties of Dispersions

It is still common belief, that dispersions basically do not display any structure, i.e., the particles (or in case of emulsions: droplets) dispersed in the liquid or solid matrix (the "dispersion medium") are assumed to be statistically distributed. Therefore, for dispersions usually percolation theory is assumed to appropriately describe their properties. However, percolation theory can only be applied if the system it should describe is in or close to thermodynamic equilibrium. There are only very few studies about the structure of dispersions (emulsions), although they are plentiful in type and in use all over the world in innumerable applications (see below). In the following, only such dispersions will be discussed with a dispersed phase diameter of less than 1 m. To understand the formation and properties of such dispersions (incl emulsions), it must be considered, that the dispersed phase exhibits a "surface", which is covered ("wet") by a different "surface" which hence are forming an interface (chemistry). Both surfaces have to be created (which requires a huge amount of energy), and the interfacial tension (difference of surface tension) is not compensating the energy input, if at all. A review article in [1] introduces into various attempts to describe dispersions / emulsions. Dispersion is a process by which (in the case of solids becoming dispersed in a liquid) agglomerated particles are separated from each other and a new interface, between an inner surface of the liquid dispersion medium and the surface of the particles to be dispersed, is generated. Dispersion is a much more complicated (and less well understood) process than most people believe. The above cited review article also displays experimental evidence for that dispersions have a structure very much different from any kind of statistical distribution (which would be characteristic for a system in thermodynamic equilibrium, but in contrast very much showing structures similar to self-organisation which can be described by non-equilibrium thermodynamics. This is the reason why some liquid dispersions turn to become gels or even solid at a concentration of a dispersed phase above a certain critical concentration (which is dependant on particle size and interfacial tension). Also the sudden appearance of conductivity in a system of a dispersed conductive phase in an insulating matrix has been explained. The above cited review article also introduces into some first complete non-equilibrium thermodynamics theory of dispersions (

1. ^ Handbook of Nanostructured Materials and Nanotechnology; Nalwa, H.S., Ed.; Academic Press: New York, NY, USA, 2000; Volume 5, pp. 501-575

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