Interaction between Crosslinked Polyelectrolyte Gels and Oppositely Charged Surfactants

University dissertation from Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Abstract: The interactions between anionic, crosslinked gels and cationic surfactants have been investigated. When exposed to oppositely charged surfactant, the gel collapses into a dense complex of polyion and micelles. During deswelling, the gel phase separates into a micelle-rich, collapsed surface phase, and a swollen, micelle-free core, both still part of the same network. As more surfactant is absorbed, the surface phase grows at the expense of the core, until the entire gel has collapsed. Polyacrylate (PA) gels with dodecyl- (C12TAB), and cetyltrimethylammonium bromide (C16TAB), as well as hyaluronate gels with cetylpyridinium chloride, have been studied. Kinetic experiments have been performed on macro- as well as microgels, using micromanipulator assisted light microscopy for the latter. A surfactant diffusion controlled deswelling model has been employed to describe the deswelling. The deswelling kinetics of PA microgels have been shown to be controlled by surfactant diffusion through the stagnant layer surrounding the gel, as the surface phase is relatively thin for the major part of the deswelling. For macroscopic PA gels the surface phase is thicker, and the kinetics with C12TAB were therefore also influenced by diffusion through the surface phase, while for C16TAB they were dominated by it. Relevant parameters have also been determined using equilibrium experiments. An irregular, balloon-forming deswelling pattern, mainly found for macrogels, as well as unexpectedly long lag times and slow deswelling for microgels, are reported and discussed. The microstructure of fully collapsed PA/C12TAB complexes has been studied using small-angle X-ray scattering. A cubic Pm3n structure was found at low salt concentration, which melted into a disordered micellar phase as the salt concentration was increased. Further increasing the salt concentration dissolved the micelles, resulting in no ordering.