Controlling Aggregation of Nonionic Surfactants Using Mixed Glycol Media
2007-04-10T00:00:00Z (GMT) by
The extent of aggregation of nonionic surfactants can be controlled by the composition of mixed solvents with two miscible glycols, ethylene glycol (EG)/propylene glycol (PG). Three nonionic surfactants bearing a common E8 ethoxylated headgroup, but with variations in the hydrocarbon chain, have been investigated: octaethylene monododecyl ether (C12E8), octaethylene monotetradecyl ether (C14E8), and octaethylene monohexadecyl ether (C16E8). The hydrogen-bonding solvents were EG/PG mixtures at different PG levels, defined in terms of the concentration (mol %) of PG. Aggregation was investigated using small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) with h-CiE8 surfactants, at 10 and 5 wt %, in deuterated glycol solvents to improve contrast. Increasing PG concentration (mol %) in the background EG/PG solvent leads to a consistent decrease in the SANS intensity, until in pure d-PG only very weak scattering is observed. These SANS data were analyzed using cylinder or ellipsoidal form factors for the EG-rich and PG-rich systems, respectively, hence demonstrating an aggregate shape change as a function of solvent composition. The results show that aggregation of nonionic surfactants occurs in glycol solvents and that the EG:PG ratio may be used as an effective means to switch aggregation “on” or “off”, as required.