School of Chemistry - Theses

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    Orientated water under insoluble monolayers
    Ralston, John ( 1970)
    The fact that oil could calm a rough sea was recorded by Pliny the Elder and by Plutarch. More quantitative information was provided by Benjamin Franklin in 1774 when he reported to the Royal Society that a teaspoonful of oil made a half-acre surface of pond ".... as smooth as a looking glass" (24). Subsequent experimentation showed that a similar effect could be observed when small amounts of insoluble soaps or "fatty" organic compounds were spread on water surfaces. Willard Gibbs published his thermodynamic treatment of surface tension and adsorption in 1878, providing the necessary theoretical background for explaining experimental results (66). In 1891 Fraulein Pockels developed the technique of manipulating these insoluble films between "barriers" extending across the entire width of a trough of water, filled so that it almost overflowed. This permitted quantitative information about surface tension and surface area to be obtained and led Rayleigh to propose, in 1899, that surface films were only one molecule thick. The basis for contemporary understanding of the behaviour of molecules in insoluble monolayers was provided in 1817 by Irving Langmuir (97), who devised the surface balance which still bears his name and whose results verified the theories of molecular orientation at surfaces. (From introduction)