Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Forming monolayer films

The water contains loosely bound Hydrogen nuclei in bonding with the OH radical. The molecules can have afinity to water depending on their polarity, if a molecule can contribute a positive charge, it would bond very well with OH negative radical. If it has negative polarity, it will be repelled from OH radicals. So any typical molecule will have either a crowding of OH -ve radicals around it or it has H+ ions around it. The situation is special when it comes to bipolar molecules, and if they are sufficiently long, they will attract both OH- or H+ at their ends. If the molecules are long, then they have sufficient space to accommodate different radicals on both ends. Surfactant molecules look like these:-

They are long chain molecules with a "head" that is water-loving :- water philic. the tails are water phobic, and hence in the given surface interface between water and air, they tend to stand upright as shown. Just like when you dip a plate in water, some water clings on the surface of plate, a metal can be dipped into a surfactant solution, and it will come out with a layer of the surfactant molecules. However this needs to be done very slowly. Here is a good article on this method of forming monolayers of one substance on another. Here are some good diagrams of the process.

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