The Journal of Physical Chemistry B, 2014, vol 118, 40, pp. 11835-11848
We have determined how the bulk behavior of mixtures of small cationic poly(amidoamine) dendrimers (generation 2, PAMAM-G2) and sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) affects the structure and composition of the adsorbed layers at the air?water interface. The aim is to reveal how the size of a well-defined hyperbranched polyelectrolyte affects the interfacial and bulk solution behavior of mixtures with oppositely charged surfactants, when the size of the polyelectrolyte approaches that of the surfactant. A combination of electrophoretic mobility, UV?vis spectroscopy, dynamic light scattering, and small-angle X-ray scattering measurements have been employed to characterize the interactions in the bulk solution. PAMAM-G2 associates strongly with SDS in the bulk, forming large aggregates where the size and the charge depend on the bulk composition. We show that kinetically trapped aggregates can be formed at compositions outside the equilibrium two-phase region, and the positively charged aggregates are larger than the negative ones. Surface tensiometry, neutron reflectometry, and ellipsometry have been used to reveal the properties of the interfacial layers. The interfacial structures formed depend strongly on the bulk composition: structured layers are present for samples inside the two-phase region, whereas intact nanostructured aggregates adsorb for samples just outside the two-phase region. The interfacial behavior of PAMAM-G2/SDS mixtures is compared with that of small amines or multivalent ions and oppositely charged surfactants. The implications of aggregate adsorption, dissociation, and spreading processes are discussed as well as the potential of small dendrimers for applications involving the delivery of functional molecules to interfaces.