Tricritical points in H2O-oil-amphiphile mixtures

M. Kahlweit, R. Strey, Makoto Aratono, G. Busse, J. Jen, K. V. Schubert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Quaternary mixtures of water (A), an oil (B), a nonionic amphiphile (C), and an appropriately chosen fourth component offer an opportunity for searching for tricritical points (tcp) at atmospheric pressure. It is shown thatfor reaching a tcp, one has to couple an A-B-C mixture that shows the phase sequence 2→3→2 with rising temperature, with a second ternary mixture that shows a 2→2 transition, the bar denoting in which of the two phases the amphiphile is mainly dissolved. With weakly structured solutions, that is, with short-chain amphiphiles as (C) this can be done by either adding an oil with a lower carbon number, or by adding a nonaqueous polar protic solvent such as formamide. With strongly structured solutions, that is, with long-chain amphiphiles, one has to add a short-chain amphiphile for destroying the structure as a prerequisite for reaching a tcp. Insofar, our earlier presumption that with long-chain amphiphiles, a tcp may also be reached, either by increasing their amphiphilicity or by lowering the carbon number of the oil, does not seem to apply. Experience shows that in A-B-C′ mixtures with sufficiently short-chain amphiphiles as C′ that separate into three phases: the amphiphile-rich middle phase always wets the A/B interface. If a short-chain amphiphile is added to an A-B-C mixture with a nonwetting middle phase one will, therefore, inevitably find a nonwetting→wetting transition as one approaches a tcp.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2842-2853
Number of pages12
JournalThe Journal of Chemical Physics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Tricritical points in H2O-oil-amphiphile mixtures'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this