|Microemulsion are clear, thermodynamically stable, isotropic liquid mixtures of oil, water and surfactant, frequently in combination with a cosurfactant. The aqueous phase may contain salt(s) and/or other ingredients, and the "oil" may actually be a complex mixture of different hydrocarbons and olefins. In contrast to ordinary emulsions, microemulsions form upon simple mixing of the components and do not require the high shear conditions generally used in the formation of ordinary emulsions. The three basic types of microemulsions are direct (oil dispersed in water, o/w), reversed (water dispersed in oil, w/o) and bicontinuous.
In ternary systems such as microemulsions, where two immiscible phases (water and ‘oil’) are present with a surfactant, the surfactant molecules may form a monolayer at the interface between the oil and water, with the hydrophobic tails of the surfactant molecules dissolved in the oil phase and the hydrophilic head groups in the aqueous phase.
Microemulsions are one of the best candidates as novel drug delivery system because of their long shelf life, improved drug solubilization with ease of preparation and administration. Microemulsions are thermodynamically stable and optically isotropic liquid solutions of oil, water and amphiphile. They have emerged as novel vehicles for drug delivery which allow controlled or sustained release for ocular, percutaneous, topical, transdermal, and parenteral administration of medicaments.