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Our laboratories have the equipment necessary to measure a wide range of physical properties, and we have developed new methods that are uniquely suited for measuring particular properties and processes.


We have recently developed capabilities to measure high temperature/high pressure properties of surfactants.   We have built a special cell which is capable of measuring interfacial tensions of oil-water mixtures above the normal boiling point of water.   We also can measure adsorption of surfactants under these conditions as well. 

In the study of micelle formation, CMC measurements by surface tensions and conductivity are done routinely. Calorimetry is being used to measure the heats of formation of micelles, heats of formation of admicelles, and the heat of mixing in the formation of mixed micelles or admicelles. Counterion binding is measured using specific ion electrodes, while aggregation numbers can be determined using small-angle x-ray scattering or, if more detailed information is required, our group has experience with neutron scattering at national laboratories. Other methods useful in the study of these phenomena are NMR and density.

We can measure the solubilization of organics by micelles with the greatest accuracy now available. For volatile compounds, a vapor pressure method is employed. For less volatile compounds, a newly developed technique from our laboratory, semi-equilibrium dialysis, is used. Headspace chromatography or micellar-enhanced ultrafiltration are also useful tools for this type of measurement.

Our laboratory can also measure adsorption isotherms for adsorption of surfactants on a variety of solids using HPLC. The co-adsorption or adsolubilization of other constituents can also be measured. Counterion binding on admicelles can be calculated from measured electrophoretic mobilities and zeta potentials can be measured. Column systems are used to study the chromatographic separation of surfactant and other components. Ellipsometry and quartz crystal microbalance measurements are used to characterize adsorbed layers on a flat surface.

We have the capability of measuring properties of a number of other aggregates formed by surfactants. Differential scanning calorimetry is useful in the study of phase transitions in mesomorphic systems. We have developed a variety of methods for determining the phase boundary in precipitating systems, utilizing laser light scattering, spectroscopy, specific ion electrodes, visual methods, and surface tension. The composition and characteristics of coacervate formed above the cloud point of solutions, and microemulsions formed in oil/water systems can also be studied using our instrumentation.

A number of analytical methods have already been described, but there is an additional need in many projects to measure the concentrations of chemical species in solution. We have four high-performance liquid chromatographs, an ion chromatograph, and several gas chromatographs for the purpose. The HPLC's have UV, conductivity, refractive index, evaporative light scattering and fluorescence detectors. Atomic absorption spectrometry with a graphite furnace is used to determine the concentration of metal ions.

In addition to these chromatographic techniques, we have other spectroscopic methods (Raman, FTIR), a total organic carbon analyzer, wet chemistry methods, conductivity cells, and surface tension apparatus for use in the measurement of surfactant and other chemical concentrations in liquid or gas phase. Tensiometer types include maximum bubble pressure, spinning drop, DuNouy ring, and Wilhelmy plate. We also have a fiber tensiometer that is able to measure both advancing and receding contact angle. A device that uses the Washburn method is able to measure wettability and contact angle of powders. We have torsional rheometers that are able to measure the steady-shear and dynamic viscosity of surfactant systems with high viscosity. The Ross-Miles foam test can be performed along with the Draves wetting test. Adsorption on surfaces can be measured using a quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation, or an ellipsometer.

IASR operates an atomic force microscope. It is equipped with both contact and non-contact heads and also has an in situ cell. Surface features can be resolved to less than one angstrom. Applicable surfaces include both conducting and nonconducting, flat and complex (e.g., porous powders). We have access to campus-wide scanning electron microscopy and transmission electron microscopy systems. We have a drop-shape analyzer to measure contact angles, surface tensions and interfacial tensions.   We also use bubble pressure tensiometry to measure dynamic surface tensions. Our group also operates a x-ray diffractometer which has both small angle and wide-angle capabilities.   We have done small-angle neutron scattering as well to study surfactant systems.

We have a Terg-o-Tometer for testing laundry detergency with a Hunter Lab spectrometer for reflectance measurements of resultant fabric. We have flow cells to measure the rate of soap scum dissolution in contact with flowing solutions of detergents. Scrub tests of hard surfaces are also performed routinely.