To test the validity of currently used adsorption theories and understand the origin of the lack of their ability of adequately describing existing surface tension measurement data, we have performed a series of molecular dynamics simulations of the adsorption layer of alkali decyl sulfate at the vapor/aqueous solution interface. The simulations have been performed with five different cations (i.e., Li(+), Na(+), K(+), Rb(+), and Cs(+)) at two different surface concentrations (i.e., 2 mu mol/m(2) and 4 mu mol/m(2)). The obtained results clearly show that the thickness of the outer Helmholtz plate, a key quantity of the various adsorption theories, depends on two parameters, that is, the size of the cations and the surface density of the anionic surfactant. Namely, with increasing surface concentration, the electrostatic attraction between the two, oppositely charged, layers becomes stronger, leading to a considerable shrinking of the outer Helmholtz plate. Furthermore, this layer is found to be thicker in the presence of larger cations. The former effect could be important in understanding the anomalous shape of the adsorption isotherms of alkali alkyl sulfate surfactants, while the second effect seems to be essential in explaining the cation specificity of these isotherms.
2007. Vol. 111, no 7, 1769-1774 p.