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Anal Sci. 2004 Mar;20(3):435-40.

Direct observation of chemical oscillation at a water/nitrobenzene interface with a sodium-alkyl-sulfate system.

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  • 1Department of Applied Chemistry, Graduate School of Engineering, The University of Tokyo, 7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo, Tokyo 113-8656, Japan.


The oscillation of the interfacial tension and electrical potential at a water/nitrobenzene interface was observed with homologous anionic surfactant molecules, sodium-alkyl-sulfates. Concerning small molecules with a short hydrophobic carbon chain, the oscillation period and amplitude decreased with a decrease of the length of the alkyl chain. On the other hand, when surfactant molecules with a long hydrophobic carbon chain were used, no remarkable periodic oscillation occurred after the first oscillation. In all systems, an interfacial flow by Marangoni convection was observed when the oscillation took place. By monitoring the movement of carbon powder scattered on the liquid/liquid interface with a CCD camera, we could observe that the liquid/liquid interface expanded outward from the area on which the surfactant molecules adsorbed when the oscillation occurred. When the small molecule was used, the speed of expansion of the interface (flow speed) was small and shrinkage followed by expansion of the interface repeatedly occurred. However, when the large molecule was used, the flow speed was large and expansion occurred only one time. These results show that hydrodynamic factors and surface activities are important in chemical oscillation systems.

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