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We investigate the breakdown of a system of micellar aggregates in a surfactant solution following an order-one dilution. We derive a mathematical model based on the Becker-Döring system of equations, using realistic expressions for the reaction constants fit to results from Molecular Dynamics simulations. We exploit the largeness of typical aggregation numbers to derive a continuum model, substituting a large system of ordinary differential equations for a partial differential equation in two independent variables: time and aggregate size. Numerical solutions demonstrate that re-equilibration occurs in two distinct stages over well-separated timescales, in agreement with experiment and with previous theories. We conclude by exposing a limitation in the Becker-Döring theory for re-equilibration of surfactant solutions.

Original publication

DOI

10.1016/j.jcis.2011.04.074

Type

Journal article

Journal

J Colloid Interface Sci

Publication Date

15/08/2011

Volume

360

Pages

662 - 671