2011 Volume 60 Issue 11 Pages 563-567
The physicochemical properties of nonionic surfactant mixtures in an aprotic, imidazolium-type room-temperature ionic liquid (RT-IL) have been studied using a combination of static surface tensiometry, dynamic light scattering (DLS), and cryogenic transmission electron microscopy (cryo-TEM). The surfactants used in this study are phytosterol ethoxylates (BPS-n, where n is an oxyethylene chain length of either 5 or 30) and the selected RT-IL is 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium hexafluorophosphate (BmimPF6). The shorter chain oxyethylene surfactant (BPS-5) exhibits greater surface activity in BmimPF6 than BPS-30; hence, BPS-5 is a major component in driving the interfacial adsorption and molecular aggregation of the mixed system. The surface tension data demonstrate that an increased mole fraction of BPS-5 results in a decreased critical aggregation concentration (cac) and negatively increased Gibbs free energies estimated for molecular aggregation (ΔG0agg) and interfacial adsorption (ΔG0ads). Indeed, the compositions of the monolayer adsorbed at the air/solution interface and the molecular aggregate formed in the bulk solution are enriched with BPS-5. The combination of the DLS and cryo-TEM results demonstrates the spontaneous formation of multi-lamellar vesicles resulting from the BPS-5-rich composition of the molecular aggregates.