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Modern colloidal drug delivery system Micro emulsions are clear, transparent,

thermodynamically stable dispersions of oil and water, stabilized by an interfacial film of surfactant frequently in combination with a co-surfactant.
Diameter - 10-140 nm.

And to avoid this, a third substance called as an

emulsifier is added, act by:

They tend to adsorb at interface, where they can fulfill

their dual affinity with hydrophilic groups located in aqueous phase and hydrophobic groups in oil or air. They reduce the mismatch with solvent through a specific kind of aggregation process known as micellization.

What is Micro Emulsion?

Water Phase

Oil Phase Surfactant


To delivery of hydrophilic as well as lipophilic drug as drug carriers because of its
improved drug solubilization capacity, long shelf life, easy of preparation and improvement of bioavailability


Macro emulsion

Micro emulsion

Types of micro emulsion

O/W Microemulsion
W/O Microemulsion Bi continuous Microemulsion

Oil in water microemulsions where in oil droplets are

dispersed in the continuous aqueous phase Water in oil microemulsions where in water droplets are dispersed in the continuous oil phase; Bi-continuous microemulsions where in micro domains of oil and water are inter dispersed within the system. In all three types of micro emulsions, the interface is stabilized by an appropriate combination of surfactants and/or co-surfactants.


Interfacial or mixed film theory

Solubilization Theory
Thermodynamic theory

Thermodynamic theory
The process of formation of oil droplets from a bulk oil

phase is accompanied by an increase in the interfacial area A, and hence an interfacial energy G . The entropy of dispersion of the droplets is equal to T S and hence the free energy of formation of the system is given by the expression. G = A - T S

When the interfacial tension is made sufficiently low that the

interfacial energy becomes comparable to or even lower than the entropy of dispersion.
The free energy of formation of the system becomes zero or

negative. This explains the thermodynamic stability of micro emulsions.

The co-surfactant along with surfactant lower the interfacial

tension to a very small even transient negative value

At this value, interface would expand to form fine

dispersed droplets.
Adsorb more surfactant and co-surfactant until their

bulk condition is depleted enough to make interfacial tension positive again

This process is known as Spontaneous Emulsification

which forms the micro emulsion.

Formation of Microemulsion
Micro emulsion is formed

the interfacial tension at
water oil

the O/W interphase are brought very low level. The interfacial tension is kept highly flexible and fluid.


Role of surfactant
The surfactant used to stabilize the micro emulsion

system are:
Non ionic Zwitter ion Cationic Anionic

The use of hydrophilic surfactant oil swollen type or

oil-in water micro emulsions.

The use of lipophilic surfactant produces water

swollen type or water-in oil micro emulsion.

The combination of ionic and nonionic surfactant can be

very effective at the extent of microemulsion region.

The change of temperature at the maximum solubilization

is very sensitive to as the solubilization increases.

If temperature insensitive three phase system are produced

micro emulsion are stable against temperature change.


Phase contrast microscopy and freeze fracture

transmission electron microscopy can be used to differentiate micro emulsions from liquid crystals and coarse emulsions.
Clear isotropic one-phase systems are identified as

micro emulsions whereas opaque systems showing bifringence when viewed by cross polarized light microscopy may be taken as liquid crystalline system.


Small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS), small-angle

neutron scattering (SANS), and static as well as dynamic light scattering Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) is the most important technique for the study of microstructures of micro emulsions because it directly produces images at high resolution and it can capture any coexistent structure and micro-structural transitions.

Brookfield viscometer. Change in the rheological characteristics help in determining

the micro emulsion region and its separation from other related structures like liquid crystals.
Bicontinuous micro emulsion are dynamic structures with

continuous fluctuations occurring between the bicontinuous structure, swollen reverse micelle, and swollen micelles.

These are thermodynamically stable and require

minimum energy for formation.

Ease of manufacturing and scale-up. Improved drug solubilization and bioavailability.

This system is reckoned advantageous because of its

wide applications in colloidal drug delivery systems for the purpose of drug targeting and controlled release

The formation of micro emulsion is reversible. They may

become unstable at low or high temperature but when the temperature returns to the stability range, the micro emulsion reforms.
The use of microemulsion as delivery systems can

improve the efficacy of a drug, allowing the total dose to be reduced and thus minimizing side effects.

Use of a large concentration of surfactant and co-

surfactant necessary for stabilizing the nanodroplets. Limited solubilizing capacity for high-melting substances The surfactant must be nontoxic for using pharmaceutical applications Micro emulsion stability is influenced by environmental parameters such as temperature and pH. These parameters change upon micro emulsion delivery to patients.

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