Disputation: Structure formation at solid/liquid interfaces: Understanding self-assembly and environmental challenges

  • Datum:
  • Plats: Å80127, Ångströmlaboratoriet, Uppsala
  • Doktorand: Nouhi, Shirin
  • Om avhandlingen
  • Arrangör: Institutionen för fysik och astronomi
  • Kontaktperson: Nouhi, Shirin
  • Disputation


The work described in the present dissertation has explored the structure of particles and molecules at solid/liquid interfaces, aiming to understand the physics of self-organizing systems and use this knowledge to address some environmental issues. Surface-sensitive neutron scattering techniques, such as reflectometry and grazing incidence small angle scattering, have been used as the primary tool to investigate structures in proximity to an interface. Some of the challenges in the interpretation of neutron scattering data are discussed, and new methods for analyzing the signal have been proposed.

It was shown that charged stabilized colloidal particles can self-assemble and form large areas (20 cm2) of crystalline structures, close to a smooth solid surface extending to depths of several micrometers, while orienting themselves into smaller crystallites in the bulk of the suspension. The adsorption of proteins from the seeds of different species of Moringa trees on alumina, silica and polystyrene surfaces was studied, as a means for using proteins from different sources and with different properties, for the water clarification step in the purification process. The seed proteins also showed to enable locking the structure of colloidal particles at the solid/liquid interface, acting as a molecular glue.

Perfluorinated surfactants (PFASs), widely used in industrial, pharmaceutical and food packing products, have been identified as emerging pollutants, raising a global concern for the environment and wildlife. The present study has shown how PFASs molecules of different fluorocarbon chain length and with different functional groups, create defects in model membranes by partitioning and removing phospholipids from the bilayer, making the bilayer thin and less dense.

The effect of interface roughness was studied on the lamellar structure of a non-ionic surfactant. Concentrated solutions of the surfactant have been shown to form well-ordered and well-aligned structures at a smooth interface, which could be modified further by simply heating the sample. However it was found that even small roughness, of the same order as the bilayer thickness, can distort the structure to a depth of several micrometers from the interface. Heating the sample could improve the alignment but not as much as that formed at a smooth surface.