Competitive adsorption of nonionic surfactant and nonionic polymer on silica

Competitive adsorption of the nonionic polymer poly(ethylene oxide) (PEO) and the nonionic surfactant of the type poly(ethylene oxide) alkyl ether from aqueous solutions on a silica surface is examined. From one-component solutions, both species readily adsorb onto silica and, in the bulk of mixed (two-component) solutions, polymer-surfactant complexes are not observed. Because both species bind by the same mechanism to silica, subtle differences in layer structure, or other species-specific parameters, determine whether one or both of the species will adsorb. It was found that various surfactants can displace PEO up to a certain critical molecular weight. Surfactants with a high aggregation number, in bulk and on the surface, can displace PEO with a higher molar mass than surfactants with a low aggregation number. As the molar mass of the polymer increases, the time a surfactant needs to completely displace the polymer increases. We can explain both the existence of the critical molar mass and the decrease in adsorption kinetics with a shift in the critical surface association concentration (CSAC).

Postmus, B. R., F. A. M. Leermakers, L. K. Koopal, M. A. C. Stuart







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