Ternary systems of nonionic surfactant Brij 35, water and various simple alcohols: Structural investigations by small-angle X-ray scattering and dynamic light scattering

Matija Tomšič*, Marija Bešter-Rogač, Andrej Jamnik, Werner Kunz, Didier Touraud, Alexander Bergmann, Otto Glatter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Structural properties of ternary systems composed of nonionic surfactant dodecyl-poly(ethylene oxide-23) ether (C12E23, commercial name: Brij 35), water and various alcohols from ethanol to 1-decanol have been investigated using small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) and dynamic light scattering (DLS) techniques. All measurements were performed at the temperature 25°C. SAXS experimental data were put on absolute scale using water as a secondary standard. The data of water-rich mixtures at low to moderate surfactant concentrations were evaluated using the generalized indirect Fourier transformation method (GIFT), which is based on the simultaneous determination of the intra- and inter-particle scattering contributions. In this way, the size and the shape of interacting scattering particles in real space could be deduced. The systems with a relatively low surfactant concentration (5 mass%) were studied most extensively. In these cases, the water-rich regions of the phase diagrams could be investigated into more detail, since in the alcohol-rich regions problems with the GIFT evaluation of the SAXS data were encountered. The presented results demonstrate the level of structural details that can be obtained on the basis of scattering methods and point out the specific stages of data evaluation and interpretation where one must be extremely precautious. As such they reveal the inner structuration of the complex ternary systems of our present interest. In parallel, they also indicate that the longer chain alcohols actually behave as real oil phases in the studied systems, as one might expect, and also confirm the well-known properties of different short to medium chain alcohols that act as co-solvents and/or co-surfactants in microemulsion systems depending on their chain length.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)194-211
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Colloid and Interface Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2006


  • Brij 35
  • Co-solvent
  • Co-surfactant
  • DLS
  • Generalized indirect Fourier transformation
  • GIFT
  • Micelle breaking
  • Microemulsions
  • Nonionic surfactant
  • SAXS
  • Simple alcohols
  • Structural investigations
  • Ternary system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Biomaterials
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry

Cite this