Polar lipids often exhibit equilibrium liquid crystalline structures in excess water, such as the bicontinuous cubic phases (QII) at low temperatures and inverse hexagonal phase (HII) at higher temperatures. In this study, the equilibrium and nonequilibrium phase behavior of glyceryl monooleate (GMO) and phytantriol (PHYT) systems in excess water were investigated using both continuous heating and cooling cycles, and rapid temperature changes. Evolution of the phase structure was followed using small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS). During cooling, not only was supercooling of the liquid crystalline systems by up to 25 A?C observed, but evidence for nonequilibrium phase structures (not present on heating; such as the gyroid cubic phase only present at low water content in equilibrium) was also apparent. The nonequilibrium phases were surprisingly stable, with return to equilibrium structure for dispersed submicrometer sized particle systems taking more than 13 h in some cases. Inhibition of phase nucleation was the key to greater supercooling effects observed for the dispersed particles compared to the bulk systems. These findings highlight the need for continued study into the nonequilibrium phase structures for these types of systems, as this may influence performance in applications such as drug delivery.
Dong, C. Y-D., Tilley, A. J., Larson, I. C., Lawrence, J., Amenitsch, H., Rappolt, M., ... Boyd, B. J. (2010). Nonequilibrium effects in self-assembled mesophase materials: unexpected supercooling effects for cubosomes and hexosomes. Langmuir, 26(11), 9000 - 9010. https://doi.org/10.1021/la904803c