Direct Spectroscopy of Microemulsion Droplet Fluctuations
Microemulsions are homogeneous mixtures of oil, water and surfactantsl. They contain large internal interfacial areas that separate the hydrocarbon domains from the aqueous regions. This interfacial area is very large and e.g. amounts to about 100 m2/cm3 for a micro-emulsion containing 10% surfactant. Thus, the properties and structure of microemulsions will crucially dependent on the nature of these surfactant layers. Two alternative ideas have been brought forward: (i) it was argued that the surface tension must be extremely low such that the droplet formation is not inhibited by its large contribution to the free energy2,3; (ii) alternatively one may think, that droplet formation results mainly from the natural bending tendency of the surfactant layer4. Then, the observed microemulsion structures are due to a minimalization of the bending elastic energy. The only way to distinguish between these two basic mechanisms for microemulsion formation is the study of the dynamics of the surfactant layer.
KeywordsMicroemulsion Formation Spontaneous Curvature Neutron Spin Surfactant Layer Translational Diffusion Coefficient
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