Surfactant templating is now a commonly used technique which uses the highly uniform structures formed by micelles in solution to impose nanoscale ordering on other materials.
We have worked on the formation mechanism of thin films formed using this process, and our insights into the growth of these films has allowed us to extend film formation to polyelectrolyte-surfactant films. These films are solid and several hundred nanometers thick and contain highly ordered mesostructures. These films can be used to encapsulate drug molecules for therapeutic applications in wound dressings, and also as secondary templates for inorganic materials for use where solution self-assembly has proven difficult.
This talk will cover the formation and properties of the polyelectrolyte-surfactant films, and present the structural characterisation at different formation stages. Brewster angle microscopy (BAM) and X-ray reflectometry were used to study the air/solution interface, while SAXS measurments were performed in order to inspect if film formation starts in the bulk. Neutron reflectometry was also used to study the air/solution interface of the PEI:CTAB system in the presence of binary propan-1-ol:water mixtures.