Bending free energy and spontaneous curvature for micelles and microemulsions with weak and strong surfactants
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For mixtures of water, oil and non-ionic surfactant the temperature-induced phase separation of a droplet-phase microemulsion into a phase of smaller sized droplets coexisting with a water- or oil-rich phase is studied by differential-scanning microcalorimetry. A comparison of theoretical estimates and experimental findings for specific-heat measurements on mixtures containing different types of surfactants (weak and strong) support a broad range of applicability of an interfacial modeling (“Helfrich free energy”), provided a more general expression for the spontaneous curvature of the interface is considered than suggested so far. The model provides then a quantitative interfacial description even for the strongly curved diffuse interface of micelles of weak surfactants.
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