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The effect of micellar lifetime on the rate of solubilization and detergency in sodium dodecyl sulfate solutions


The slow relaxation time (τ2) of sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) micelles, measured by the pressure-jump technique, was maximum at 200 mM concentration at 25°C, indicating that the most stable micelles are formed at this concentration. This is presumably related to the optimum molecular packing in the micelle. The rate of solubilization of benzene and Orange OT dye into SDS solutions was also maximum at 200 mM concentration. The results are explained as follows: The distance between micelles (i.e., intermicellar distance) decreases as the surfactant concentration (or the number of micelles) increases, resulting in a stronger electric repulsion between micelles. Therefore, the micelles become more rigid, due to the compressive force of intermicellar repulsion, as the concentration increases up to 200 mM SDS. With further increase in the SDS concentration, the micellar shape changes from spherical to cylindrical to accommodate more surfactant molecules in the solution and to minimize the free energy of the system. The interior of the tightly packed micelles is more hydrophobic than that of loosely packed micelles and, therefore, the tightly packed micelles induce rapid solubilization of nonpolar molecules (e.g., benzene, Orange OT) into these micelles.

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Correspondence to D. O. Shah.

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Oh, S.G., Shah, D.O. The effect of micellar lifetime on the rate of solubilization and detergency in sodium dodecyl sulfate solutions. J Am Oil Chem Soc 70, 673–678 (1993).

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Key words

  • Detergency
  • electrical conductivity
  • intermicellar distance
  • micellar lifetime
  • pressure-jump technique
  • rate of solubilization
  • rigidity of micelles