Surfactant-Like Behavior for the Adsorption of Mixtures of a Polycation and Two Different Zwitterionic Surfactants at the Water/Vapor Interface

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The bulk and interfacial properties of solutions formed by a polycation (i.e., poly(diallyl-dimethylammonium chloride), PDADMAC) and two different zwitterionic surfactants (i.e., coco-betaine (CB) and cocoamidopropyl-betaine (CAPB)) have been studied. The bulk aggregation of the polyelectrolyte and the two surfactants was analyzed by turbidity and electrophoretic mobility measurements, and the adsorption of the solutions at the fluid interface was studied by surface tension and interfacial dilational rheology measurements. Evidence of polymer–surfactant complex formation in bulk was only found when the number of surfactant molecules was closer to the number of charged monomers in solutions, which suggests that the electrostatic repulsion associated with the presence of a positively charged group in the surfactant hinders the association between PDADMAC and the zwitterionic surfactant for concentrations in which there are no micelles in solution. This lack of interaction in bulk is reflected in the absence of an influence of the polyelectrolyte in the interfacial properties of the mixtures, with the behavior being controlled by the presence of surfactant. This work has evidenced the significant importance of the different interactions involved in the system for controlling the interaction and complexation mechanisms of in polyelectrolyte–surfactant mixtures.