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Assembly of small molecule surfactants at highly dynamic air–water interfaces

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Abstract

Small-angle neutron scattering has been used to probe the interfacial structure of foams stabilised by small molecule surfactants at concentrations well below their critical micelle concentration. The data for wet foams showed a pronounced Q−4 dependence at low Q and noticeable inflexions over the mid Q range. These features were found to be dependent on the surfactant structure (mainly the alkyl chain length) with various inflexions across the measured Q range as a function of the chain length but independent of factors such as concentration and foam age/height. By contrast, foam stability (for C < CMC) was significantly different at this experimental range. Drained foams showed different yet equally characteristic features, including additional peaks attributed to the formation of classical micellar structures. Together, these features suggest the dynamic air–water interface is not as simple as often depicted, indeed the data have been successfully described by a model consisting paracrystalline stacks (multilayer) of adsorbed surfactant layers; a structure that we believe is induced by the dynamic nature of the air–water interface in a foam.

Graphical abstract: Assembly of small molecule surfactants at highly dynamic air–water interfaces

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Publication details

The article was received on 22 Sep 2017, accepted on 10 Nov 2017 and first published on 10 Nov 2017


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C7SM01914A
Citation: Soft Matter, 2017, Advance Article
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    Assembly of small molecule surfactants at highly dynamic air–water interfaces

    O. T. Mansour, B. Cattoz, M. Beaube, M. Montagnon, R. K. Heenan, R. Schweins, M. Appavou and P. C. Griffiths, Soft Matter, 2017, Advance Article , DOI: 10.1039/C7SM01914A

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