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Article

Reflectometry Reveals Accumulation of Surfactant Impurities at Bare Oil/Water Interfaces

1
Biomaterials Department, Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, Am Mühlenberg 1, 14476 Potsdam, Germany
2
Institut Laue-Langevin, 71 avenue des Martyrs, 38000 Grenoble, France
3
Division of Pharmacy and Optometry, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PT, UK
4
ESRF, The European Synchrotron, 71 Avenue des Martyrs, 38000 Grenoble, France
5
Institute of Condensed Matter Physics, Physics Department, TU Darmstadt, Hochschulstrasse 8, 64289 Darmstadt, Germany
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Pierandrea Lo Nostro
Molecules 2019, 24(22), 4113; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules24224113
Received: 26 September 2019 / Revised: 6 November 2019 / Accepted: 9 November 2019 / Published: 14 November 2019
Bare interfaces between water and hydrophobic media like air or oil are of fundamental scientific interest and of great relevance for numerous applications. A number of observations involving water/hydrophobic interfaces have, however, eluded a consensus mechanistic interpretation so far. Recent theoretical studies ascribe these phenomena to an interfacial accumulation of charged surfactant impurities in water. In the present work, we show that identifying surfactant accumulation with X-ray reflectometry (XRR) or neutron reflectometry (NR) is challenging under conventional contrast configurations because interfacial surfactant layers are then hardly visible. On the other hand, both XRR and NR become more sensitive to surfactant accumulation when a suitable scattering length contrast is generated by using fluorinated oil. With this approach, significant interfacial accumulation of surfactant impurities at the bare oil/water interface is observed in experiments involving standard cleaning procedures. These results suggest that surfactant impurities may be a limiting factor for the investigation of fundamental phenomena involving water/hydrophobic interfaces. View Full-Text
Keywords: X-ray reflectometry; neutron reflectometry; fluorocarbons; liquid/liquid interfaces X-ray reflectometry; neutron reflectometry; fluorocarbons; liquid/liquid interfaces
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MDPI and ACS Style

Scoppola, E.; Micciulla, S.; Kuhrts, L.; Maestro, A.; Campbell, R.A.; Konovalov, O.V.; Fragneto, G.; Schneck, E. Reflectometry Reveals Accumulation of Surfactant Impurities at Bare Oil/Water Interfaces. Molecules 2019, 24, 4113. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules24224113

AMA Style

Scoppola E, Micciulla S, Kuhrts L, Maestro A, Campbell RA, Konovalov OV, Fragneto G, Schneck E. Reflectometry Reveals Accumulation of Surfactant Impurities at Bare Oil/Water Interfaces. Molecules. 2019; 24(22):4113. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules24224113

Chicago/Turabian Style

Scoppola, Ernesto, Samantha Micciulla, Lucas Kuhrts, Armando Maestro, Richard A. Campbell, Oleg V. Konovalov, Giovanna Fragneto, and Emanuel Schneck. 2019. "Reflectometry Reveals Accumulation of Surfactant Impurities at Bare Oil/Water Interfaces" Molecules 24, no. 22: 4113. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules24224113

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