The browser you are using is not supported by this website. All versions of Internet Explorer are no longer supported, either by us or Microsoft (read more here:

Please use a modern browser to fully experience our website, such as the newest versions of Edge, Chrome, Firefox or Safari etc.

Portrait of Tommy Nylander. Photo: Kennet Ruona

Tommy Nylander


Portrait of Tommy Nylander. Photo: Kennet Ruona

Polyelectrolyte-surfactant association-from fundamentals to applications


  • Björn Lindman
  • Filipe Antunes
  • Saule Aidarova
  • Maria Miguel
  • Tommy Nylander

Summary, in English

Mixed polymer-surfactant systems have broad applications, ranging from detergents, paints, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic to biotechnological. A review of the underlying polymer-surfactant association in bulk is given. While ionic surfactants bind broadly to polymers, nonionics only do so if the polymer has a lower polarity and can interact by hydrophobic interactions. Water-soluble polymers, which have hydrophobic groups, form physical cross-links, hence they may be used as thickeners. The rheological behaviour is strongly influenced by various cosolutes; especially strong effects are due to surfactants and both a decrease and an increase in viscosity can occur. When the polymer-surfactant interactions are particularly strong, an associative phase separation can occur, like in the case where there is electrostatic attraction as well as hydrophobic; this and other types of phase separation phenomena are described. Except for linear ionic and nonionic polymers, the interactions between surfactants and cross-linked polymers, microgel particles and covalent macroscopic gels are analyzed, as well as the possibility of forming gel particles of interest for encapsulation purposes. Furthermore, the behavior of these mixed systems on surfaces is discussed. In particular, we consider the adsorption of mixtures of ionic polymers and oppositely charged surfactants on polar and nonpolar surfaces. Depending on concentration, an ionic surfactant can either induce additional polyion adsorption or induce desorption. Kinetic control of adsorption and, in particular, desorption is typical. Important consequences of this include an increased adsorption on rinsing and path dependent adsorbed layers. Recently, considerable attention has been given to the interaction between DNA and cationic surfactant, both as a means to understand the behaviour of DNA in biological systems and to develop novel formulations, for example for gene therapy. Here we review aspects such as DNA compaction, DNA covalent gels and DNA soft nanoparticles.


  • Physical Chemistry

Publishing year







Colloid Journal of the Russian Academy of Science





Document type

Journal article


MAIK Nauka/Interperiodica


  • Physical Chemistry




  • ISSN: 1608-3067