Mechanism of the mixed surfactant micelle formation.
This article provides a full description of the mixed micelle formation process at a molecular level. The mechanism of mixed micelle formation in binary surfactant aqueous solution systems, ionic/nonionic mixed systems (12-2-12/TX-100, 14-2-14/TX-100, and SDS/TX-100), and ionic/ionic mixed systems (12-2-12/TTAB, 14-2-14/TTAB, and SDS/CTAB), in heavy water solutions was studied by (1)H NMR spectroscopy. The critical micellization concentrations of each individual component in the mixed surfactant solutions were gained by analyzing changes in chemical shift and intensities of resonance peaks. The chemical shift changes indicated that in the 12-2-12/TX-100 and SDS/TX-100 systems, micelles of TX-100 formed first, and then 12-2-12 or SDS molecules were fused in the micelles, respectively, which has been proved by 2D NOESY experiments. In contrast, 14-2-14 was the first component to form the micelles in the 14-2-14/TX-100 system. Although 12-2-12 and 14-2-14 are analogs and differ only in the length of the hydrophobic chain by two methylene groups, they showed different behaviors in the micellization processes in the mixture with TX-100. The observation suggests that in the binary surfactant system under current study, the component with lower cmc in the mixed solution aggregates first; then, the other one fuses, resulting in the mixed micelles as the total concentration increases. The same results were obtained for the ionic/ionic solutions, 12-2-12/TTAB, 14-2-14/TTAB, and SDS/CTAB. The above results suggest that the two mixed surfactants do not aggregate synchronously. It obviously demonstrates that the so-called "cmc of the mixed surfactant solution" needs reconsideration.