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Langmuir. 2013 Dec 3;29(48):14748-55. doi: 10.1021/la403439r. Epub 2013 Nov 21.

Adsorption isotherms and structure of cationic surfactants adsorbed on mineral oxide surfaces prepared by atomic layer deposition.

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Department of Applied Mathematics, Research School of Physics and Engineering, Australian National University , Canberra, 0200 ACT, Australia.


The adsorption isotherms and aggregate structures of adsorbed surfactants on smooth thin-film surfaces of mineral oxides have been studied by optical reflectometry and atomic force microscopy (AFM). Films of the mineral oxides of titania, alumina, hafnia, and zirconia were produced by atomic layer deposition (ALD) with low roughness. We find that the surface strongly influences the admicelle organization on the surface. At high concentrations (2 × cmc) of cetyltrimethylammonium bromide (CTAB), the surfactant aggregates on a titania surface exhibit a flattened admicelle structure with an average repeat distance of 8.0 ± 1.0 nm whereas aggregates on alumina substrates exhibit a larger admicelle with an average separation distance of 10.5 ± 1.0 nm. A wormlike admicelle structure with an average separation distance of 7.0 ± 1.0 nm can be observed on zirconia substrates whereas a bilayered aggregate structure on hafnia substrates was observed. The change in the surface aggregate structure can be related to an increase in the critical packing parameter through a reduction in the effective headgroup area of the surfactant. The templating strength of the surfaces are found to be hafnia > alumina > zirconia > titania. Weakly templating surfaces are expected to have superior biocompatibility.

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