A model for the limiting surface tension of surfactant solutions (surface tension at and above the critical micelle concentration, cmc) was developed. This model takes advantage of the equilibrium between the surfactant molecules on the liquid/vacuum surface and in micelles in the bulk at the cmc. An approximate analytical equation for the surface tension at the cmc was obtained. The derived equation contains two parameters, which characterize the intermolecular interactions in the micelles, and the third parameter, which is the surface area per surfactant molecule at the interface. These parameters were calculated using a new atomistic modeling approach. The performed calculations of the limiting surface tension for four simple surfactants show good agreement with experimental data (similar to 30% accuracy). The developed model provides the guidance for design of surfactants with low surface tension values. (C) 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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