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Surfactant and Electric Field Strength Effects on Surface Tension at Liquid/Liquid/Solid Interfaces

David Keffer, University of Tennessee - Knoxville
Johanna M. Santiago, University of Tennessee - Knoxville
Robert M. Counce, University of Tennessee - Knoxville


We performed a series of experiments designed to elucidate the effects of the presence of sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) surfactant and an applied electrical field on the wetting behavior in a system containing a sessile droplet of phenylmethyl polysiloxane (PMPS) oil on a polished stainless steel surface submersed in aqueous solution. The voltage difference ranged from −3 to +3 V, which is at least 3 orders of magnitude smaller than from comparable recent work. We report the measured equilibrium contact angle of the droplet as a function of surfactant concentration and field strength. We then modeled the system. We solved the Laplace equation to obtain the 3D field within our system. We expanded the three surface tensions (oil droplet−aqueous solution (oa), oil droplet−metal surface (os), and aqueous solution−metal surface (as)) in a Taylor series with respect to surfactant concentration and local field strength. We use these three surface tensions in Young's equation to obtain the theoretical contact angle of the organic droplet. We demonstrate that the large changes in contact angle due to the simultaneous presence of small concentrations of surfactant and small voltage differences can be accounted for by changes in the oa and as surface tensions.

Suggested Citation

David Keffer, Johanna M. Santiago, and Robert M. Counce. "Surfactant and Electric Field Strength Effects on Surface Tension at Liquid/Liquid/Solid Interfaces" Langmuir 22.12 (2006): 5358-5365.