Photoresponsive Arylazopyrazole Surfactant/PDADMAC Mixtures: Reversible Control of Bulk and Interfacial Properties

27 February 2024, Version 3
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


In many applications of polyelectrolyte/surfactant (P/S) mixtures, it is difficult to fine-tune them after mixing the components without changing the sample composition, e.g. pH or the ionic strength. Here we report on a new approach where we use photoswitchable surfactants to enable drastic changes in both the bulk and interfacial properties. Poly(diallyldimethylammonium chloride) (PDADMAC) mixtures with three alkyl-arylazopyrazole butyl sulfonates (CnAAP) with -H, -butyl and -octyl tails are applied and E/Z photoisomerization of the surfactants is used to cause substantially different hydrophobic interactions between the surfactants and PDADMAC. This affects significantly the P/S binding and allows for tuning both the bulk and interfacial properties of PDADMAC/CnAAP mixtures through light irradiation. For that, we have fixed the surfactant concentrations at values where they exhibit pronounced surface tension changes upon E/Z photoisomerization with 365 nm UV light (Z) and 520 nm green (E) light and have varied the PDADMAC concentration. The electrophoretic mobility can be largely tuned by photoisomerisation of CnAAP surfactants and P/S aggregates, which can even exhibit a charge reversal from negative to positive values or vice versa. In addition, low colloidal stability at equimolar concentrations of PDADMAC with CnAAP surfactants in the E configuration lead to the formation of large aggregates in the bulk which can be redissolved by irradiation with UV light when the surfactant‘s alkyl chain is short enough (C0AAP). Vibrational sum-frequency generation (SFG) reveals changes at the interface similar to the bulk, where the charging state at air-water interfaces can be modified with light irradiation. Using SFG spectroscopy, we interrogated the O-H stretching modes of interfacial H2O and provide qualitative information on surface charging that is complemented by neutron reflectometry, from which we resolved the surface excess of PDADMAC and CnAAP at the air-water interface, independently.


Liquid-Vapor Interface
Polymer/Surfactant Mixtures
Nonlinear Optical Spectroscopy

Supplementary materials

Supporting Information
Tensiometry, Analysis NR profiles, SFG details, reversibility of E/Z switching, UV\vis spectroscopy, details on foam formation


Comments are not moderated before they are posted, but they can be removed by the site moderators if they are found to be in contravention of our Commenting Policy [opens in a new tab] - please read this policy before you post. Comments should be used for scholarly discussion of the content in question. You can find more information about how to use the commenting feature here [opens in a new tab] .
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy [opens in a new tab] and Terms of Service [opens in a new tab] apply.