Surfactants are amphiphilic compounds or molecules that lower the surface tension (or interfacial tension) between different components; liquid-liquid, solid-liquid, liquid-gas, by means of adsorption. Surfactants are are widely used across multiple industries and applications as detergents, foaming agents, wetting agents, emulsifiers and dispersants. Above a critical concentration (Critical Micelle Concentration) surfactants aggregate to form micelles. These are usually spherical in nature but can also evolve into other structures/phases such as rods (worm-like micelles) and sheets (lamellar phase) depending on concentration, ionic strength, pH, temperature and presence of co-surfactants. Worm-like micelles are commonly used to thicken personal care products such a shampoos and shower gels and also find use in enhanced oil recovery applications. Other applications include drug delivery and encapsulation.
Malvern Panlaytical's range of characterization technology and application knowledge can be used to:
- Characterize the particle size of powder detergents
- Determine the critical micelle concentration of surfactants
- Understand the influence of pH, concentration, ionic strength and temperature on micelle size
- Study the thermodynamics of micelle formation
- Optimize detergent and emulsification performance