Adsorption Characteristics of Monomeric/Gemini Surfactant Mixtures at the Silica/Aqueous Solution Interface

The adsorption of the monomeric/gemini surfactant mixtures at the silica/aqueous solution interface has been characterized on the basis of quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation monitoring (QCM-D) and atomic force microscopy (AFM) data. The gemini surfactant employed in this study was cationic 1,2-bis(dodecyldimethylammonio)ethane dibromide (12-2-12). This surfactant was mixed with monomeric surfactants (dodecyltrimethylammonium bromide (DTAB), hexadecyltrimethylammonium bromide (HTAB), and octaoxyethylenedodecyl ether (C12EO8)) in the presence of an added electrolyte (NaBr). The key finding in our current study is that the addition of the gemini surfactant (12-2-12) makes significant impact on the adsorption properties even when the mole fraction of 12-2-12 is quite low in the surfactant mixtures. This is suggested by the experimental results that (i) the QCM-D adsorption isotherms measured for the monomeric/gemini surfactant mixtures shift to the region of lower surfactant concentrations compared with the monomeric single systems; (ii) the adsorbed layer morphology largely depends on the mole fraction of 12-2-12 in the surfactant mixtures, and the increased 12-2-12 mole fraction results in the less curved surface aggregates; and (iii) the addition of 12-2-12 yields a relatively rigid adsorbed layer when compared with the layer formed by the monomeric single systems. These adsorption properties result from the fact that the more favorable interaction of 12-2-12 with the silica surface sites drives the overall surfactant adsorption in these mixtures, which is particularly obvious in the region of low surfactant concentrations and at the 12-2-12 low mole fractions. We believe that this knowledge should be important when considering the formulation of gemini surfactants into various chemical products.