The influence of chain length and electrolyte on the adsorption kinetics of cationic surfactants at the silica-aqueous solution interface

R. Atkin, Vincent S J Craig, Erica J. Wanless, S. Biggs

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The equilibrium and kinetic aspects of the adsorption of alkyltrimethylammonium surfactants at the silica-aqueous solution interface have been investigated using optical reflectometry. The effect of added electrolyte, the length of the hydrocarbon chain, and of the counter- and co-ions has been elucidated. Increasing the length of the surfactant hydrocarbon chain results in the adsorption isotherm being displaced to lower concentrations. The adsorption kinetics indicate that above the cmc micelles are adsorbing directly to the surface and that as the chain length increases the hydrophobicity of the surfactant has a greater influence on the adsoption kinetics. While the addition of 10 mM KBr increases the CTAB maximal surface excess, there is no corresponding increase for the addition of 10 mM KCl to the CTAC system. This is attributed to the decreased binding efficiency of the chloride ion relative to the bromide ion. Variations in the co-ion species (Li, Na, K) have little effect on the adsorption rate and surface excess of CTAC up to a bulk electrolyte concentration of 10 mM. However, the rate of adsorption is increased in the presence of electrolyte. Slow secondary adsorption is seen over a range of concentrations for CTAC in the absence of electrolyte and importantly in the presence of LiCl; the origin of this slow adsorption is attributed to a structural barrier to adsorption.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)236-244
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Colloid and Interface Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2003
Externally publishedYes


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