Institute for High Energy Physics (IHEF)
Institute of Physics (IoP)
The surface-active ions tetraphenylarsonium (Ph4As+) and tetraphenylboron (Ph4B-) have a similar structure but opposite charge. At the solution-air interface, the two ions affect the surface tension in an identical manner, yet sum-frequency generation (SFG) spectra reveal an enhanced surface propensity for Ph4As+ compared with Ph4B-, in addition to opposite alignment of interfacial water molecules. At the water-oil interface, the interfacial tension is 7 mN/m lower for Ph4As+ than for Ph4B- salts, but this can be fully accounted for by the different bulk solubility of these ions in the hydrophobic phase, rather than inherently different surface activities. The different solubility can be accounted for by differences in electronic structure, as evidenced by quantum chemical calculations and NMR studies. Our results show that the surface propensity concluded from SFG spectroscopy does not necessarily correlate with interfacial adsorption concluded from thermodynamic measurements.