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Title: Drainage via stratification and nanoscopic thickness transitions of aqueous sodium naphthenate foam films
Sodium naphthenates (NaNs), found in crude oils and oil sands process-affected water (OSPW), can act as surfactants and stabilize undesirable foams and emulsions. Despite the critical impact of soap-like NaNs on the formation, properties, and stability of petroleum and OSPW foams, there is a significant lack of studies that characterize foam film drainage, motivating this study. Here, we contrast the drainage of aqueous foam films formulated with NaN with foams containing sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS), a well-studied surfactant system, in the relatively low concentration regime ( c /CMC < 12.5). The foam films exhibit drainage via stratification, displaying step-wise thinning and coexisting thick–thin regions manifested as distinct shades of gray in reflected light microscopy due to thickness-dependent interference intensity. Using IDIOM (interferometry digital imaging optical microscopy) protocols that we developed, we analyze pixel-wise intensity to obtain thickness maps with high spatiotemporal resolution (thickness <1 nm, lateral ∼500 nm, time ∼10 ms). The analysis of interference intensity variations over time reveals that the aqueous foam films of both SDS and NaN possess an evolving, dynamic, and rich nanoscopic topography. The nanoscopic thickness transitions for stratifying SDS foam films are attributed to the role played by damped supramolecular oscillatory structural disjoining pressure contributed by the confinement-induced layering of spherical micelles. In comparison with SDS, we find smaller concentration-dependent step size and terminal film thickness values for NaN, implying weaker intermicellar interactions and oscillatory structural disjoining pressure with shorter decay length and periodicity.  more » « less
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Soft Matter
Medium: X
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National Science Foundation
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