Most of you experience surfactant dissolution in everyday life. Think of what happens when you shower and use shampoo or soap. And when you make the dishes. And when you wash your clothes. And so on. In these examples, the quickest possible dissolution is desirable. However, some systems do not behave well and undergo interfacial instabilities. I study such a case where the surfactant system is a lamellar phase (smectic A) made of a poorly-soluble surfactant plus water. In contact with water, the phase does not dissolve but rather swells in a spectacular manner by forming fingers that invade the solvent (picture). Why this route is chosen for swelling and how the tubes take shape (in less that 0.1 second) is not known. I'll tell you how I am struggling to find clues.
This is a weekly series of informal talks given primarily by members of the soft condensed matter and statistical mechanics groups, but is also open to members of other groups and external visitors. The aim of the series is to promote discussion and learning of various topics at a level suitable to the broad background of the group. Everyone is welcome to attend..