Sorbitan tristearate layers at the air/water interface studied by shear and dilatational interfacial rheology.

Research paper by Philipp P Erni, Peter P Fischer, Erich J EJ Windhab

Indexed on: 03 Nov '05Published on: 03 Nov '05Published in: Langmuir


The shear and dilatational rheology of condensed interfacial layers of the water-insoluble surfactant sorbitan tristearate at the air/water interface is investigated. A new interfacial shear rheometer allows measurements in both stress- and strain-controlled modes, providing comprehensive interfacial rheological information such as the interfacial dynamic shear moduli, the creep response to a stress pulse, the stress relaxation response to a strain step, or steady shear curves. Our experiments show that the interfacial films are both viscoelastic and brittle in nature and subject to fracture at small deformations, as was supported by in-situ Brewster angle microscopy performed during the rheological experiments. Although any large-deformation test is destructive to the sample, it is still possible to study the linear viscoelastic regime if the deformations involved are controlled carefully. Complementary results for the dilatational rheology in area step compression/expansion experiments are reported. The dilatational behavior is predominantly elastic throughout the frequency spectrum measured, whereas the layers exhibit generalized Maxwell behavior in shear mode within a deformation frequency regime as narrow as two decades, indicating the presence of additional relaxation mechanisms in shear as opposed to expansion/compression. If the transient rheological response from stress relaxation experiments is considered, then the data can be described well with a stretched exponential model both in the shear and dilatational deformations.