We employ a statistical mechanical dilute solution theory (DST) and lattice Monte Carlo simulations to investigate the interfacial properties of ternary solutions with a dominant solvent and two dilute cosolutes. We consider cosolutes with weak interfacial preferences in order to focus on the impact of cross-interactions between the two cosolute species. When the cross-interaction is properly balanced, the two cosolutes make independent, additive contributions to both bulk and interfacial properties. Conversely, repulsive cross-interactions slightly enhance the interfacial preference of both solutes. In contrast, attractive cross-interactions reduce interfacial preferences and can convert weak surfactants into weak depletants. We observe a particularly interesting transition in the symmetric case of two equivalent self-repelling cosolutes with attractive cross-interactions. In this regime, the major cosolute acts as a weak surfactant in order to avoid repulsive self-interactions, while the minor cosolute acts as a weak depletant in order to form attractive cross-interactions. The two equivalent cosolutes switch roles depending upon their relative concentration. DST very accurately describes the surface tension and surface excess of simulated lattice solutions up to molar concentrations. More importantly, DST provides quantitative and qualitative insight into the mechanism by which cosolute interactions modulate interfacial preferences.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physics and Astronomy(all)
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry