New Application Note Presents Newest Results in Imaging Surfactant Micelle Dynamics with Video-Rate Atomic Force Microscopy

Single frame taken from a video captured at 5.8 frames per second (173 ms per frame), showing clearly rows of CTAB hemimicelles on the HOPG surface and the orientation of the domain boundaries. Tapping mode phase data is shown here for optimum contrast. Watch the full video:

Surfactants have many important industrial applications, including stabilization of colloidal dispersions (e.g., detergents), corrosion inhibition, and lubrication.

Their formation of ordered colloidal structures, or micelles, on surfaces also makes them attractive as templates for creating nanostructures—making it vital to fully understand their behavior at solid-liquid interfaces. New breakthroughs in video-rate atomic force microscopy (AFM) enable imaging of surfactant micelles with high spatial resolution and high speed like never before. These results are presented in the new application note “Video-Rate AFM Opens New Research Possibilities into Surfactant Behavior at Solid-Liquid Interfaces” from Oxford Instruments Asylum Research. Materials, methods, and movies are presented for CTAB, a common surfactant, using the Asylum Research Cypher VRS Video-Rate AFM. The application note can be downloaded at

Visualizing and quantifying the dynamics of surfactant micelles at solid-liquid interfaces is now easily achieved with the video-rate imaging speed of the Asylum Research Cypher VRS AFM. We hope this application note will inspire researchers to pursue video-rate AFM for their surfactant research or to study any nanoscale dynamics, including biochemical reactions, self-assembly processes, or the nonequilibrium evolution of phase and grain structures.

Ben Ohler, Director of Marketing, Asylum Research

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