Mixed alkanethiol monolayers on gold surfaces: Wetting and stability studies

Abraham Ulman, Stephen D. Evans, Yitzhak Shnidman, Ravi Sharma, James E. Eilers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Studies of wetting and stability of mixed monolayers containing hydrophobie and hydrophilic components are discussed. We are reporting the observation of an apparent concentration-driven transition in the cosine of the contact angles of liquids on mixed monolayers. It is suggested that this phenomenon is due to a possible (true or rounded) surface phase transition, resulting in the formation of a prewetting water layer. This formation is triggered by variations in the quenched distribution of random surface fields. The variation of the surface free-energy, both polar and dispersive parts, has been determined as a function of surface OH-concentration. The surface free-energy of the 100% OH surface is close to that found for water, as might be expected for a surface coated with several monolayers of water. Zisman plots obtained for several of the surfaces using polar and nonpolar liquids give γc values which follow the observed dispersive contribution to the total surface free energy, and thus do not present a good approximation to the surface free energy (i.e., γc < γsv). Contact angle variation was studied on self-assembled alkanethiol monolayers containing mixtures of OH and CH3 groups at their air-monolayer interface. It was found that these high free energy organic surfaces yielded contact angles which were not stable over long periods of time. The extent of the variation was found to be related to the surface free energy (%OH). The effect of different storage environments and temperature on the changing contact angles are discussed. We propose that monolayer surfaces containing high concentrations of OH groups on mobile organic chains are not stable. Such monolayer surfaces may stabilize over time, depending on the chain length, by surface reorganization and the adsorption of contaminants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-224
Number of pages50
JournalAdvances in Colloid and Interface Science
Issue numberC
StatePublished - Apr 6 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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