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Molecular Structure of Surfactant-Coated Surfaces

S. Garoff
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Vol. 84, No. 14 (Jul. 15, 1987), pp. 4729-4732
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30259
Page Count: 4
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Molecular Structure of Surfactant-Coated Surfaces
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Abstract

The structure of surfactants on solid surfaces arises from the competition between the molecular forces that drive the formation of bulk phases of these molecules and the constraints of the solid interface. These monolayers exhibit bond-oriented ordering and undergo both reversible and irreversible phase transformations. Probing the characteristics and origins of the molecular structure of surfactant-coated surfaces will produce technological and scientific benefits. As a detailed picture of this molecular structure evolves, the origins of the many macroscopic interfacial properties so profoundly affected by these monolayers will become clearer. Such a picture forms the basis for molecular engineering, not just of the chemical structure of the individual molecules but also of the collective properties of the ensemble of molecules. Optimization of the macroscopic effects can then be achieved through an intelligent manipulation of both the individual molecular structure, as has been done so successfully in the past, as well as the collective properties of the monolayer. Scientifically, the surface-bound monolayer structure is closely related to the many other bulk and interfacial structures surfactant molecules form: biological membranes, micelles, microemulsions, foams, thermotropic and lyotropic liquid crystals, and layered crystalline phases. In the surface-bound monolayer, we see the interplay of the same intermolecular forces responsible for these bulk phases with the constraints of the solid interface. The surface milieu may prove to be a fruitful ground for gaining new insight into the molecular interactions behind the bulk structures and will surely provide a testing ground for concepts and theories about interfacial phases of complex molecules with multiple degrees of freedom. In this review, I have covered only a subset of all the surfactant films known. However, the emerging picture of these monolayers undoubtedly indicates general trends common to all films.

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