Added surfactant can change the phase behavior of aqueous polymer-particle mixtures
Research output: Contribution to journal › Article
The phase behavior of aqueous mixtures of the "clouding" polymer ethyl(hydroxyethyl)cellulose (EHEC) mixed with colloidal particles and surfactants has been studied. These types of mixtures are important in many technical formulations. Two types of particles, polystyrene latex and silica, and two types of EHEC, nonmodified EHEC (N-EHEC) and hydrophobically modified EHEC (HM-EHEC), were studied. The EHECs adsorb to both kinds of particles. Both the amount and the type of added surfactant were seen to dramatically influence the partitioning of the particles between the EHEC-rich and EHEC-poor phases of phase-separated mixtures (above the cloud point temperature). Surfactants that are known not to associate with the EHEC backbone, that is, nonionic surfactants and short-chain cationic surfactants, changed the interaction between EHEC and the colloidal particles from attraction to repulsion above a specific surfactant concentration, resulting in a change in the partitioning of the particles from the EHEC-rich to the EHEC-poor phase. No such particle inversion was observed for ionic surfactants that bind to the EHEC backbone. An analysis considering both the binding of surfactant to EHEC and the competitive adsorption of surfactant to the particle surfaces could rationalize all observations, including the large variations observed, among the studied mixtures, in the surfactant concentration required for particle inversion.