Characterization of microemulsion structure using atomic force microscopy

Y.S. Zamula, M.O. Afanasyev, E.S. Batirshin show affiliations and emails
Received  11 May 2023; Accepted  10 September 2023
Citation: Y.S. Zamula, M.O. Afanasyev, E.S. Batirshin. Characterization of microemulsion structure using atomic force microscopy. Lett. Mater., 2023, 13(4) 286-291


The morphological features of the structures of the adsorbed substance on the surface of freshly cleaved mica in contact with the three-component water-surfactant-oil system were studied using atomic force microscopy. The mechanism of adsorption of anionic surfactants on the mica surface in the presence of cations in solution has been confirmed.Characteristics of structures adsorbed on freshly cleaved mica in contact with a microemulsion were studied using atomic force microscopy. The microemulsion is formed by a three-component system: an aqueous solution of NaCl (4 wt.%) — sodium dodecyl sulfate / n-Butanol (surfactant / cosurfactant) — n-heptane. A ternary phase diagram of this system was constructed based on the results of tube tests, and the boundaries of the single-phase and two-phase regions were determined. The surface of the samples was scanned in the semi-contact mode using a cantilever with a tip curvature radius of less than 10 nm. The mechanism of adsorption of anionic surfactants on the mica surface in the presence of cations in solution has been confirmed. Comparison of the images of the adsorbed substance obtained upon contact with the microemulsion from different regions of the phase diagram showed a correlation between the morphological characteristics of the images and the structural features of the microemulsions. On the surface topographies obtained, one can observe qualitative differences in the structure. Depending on the composition of the microemulsion, various characteristic patterns can be observed, such as single particles or complex structures with well-developed morphology, corresponding to bicontinuous microemulsions.

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1. Russian Science Foundation - 21-79-10212