Supplementary Information from Mechanism of biosurfactant adsorption to oil/water interfaces from millisecond scale tensiometry measurements

Many biological molecules are by their nature amphiphilic and have the ability to act as surfactants, stabilizing interfaces between aqueous and immiscible oil phases. In this paper, we explore the adsorption kinetics of surfactin, a naturally occurring cyclic lipopeptide, at hexadecane/water interfaces and compare and contrast its adsorption behaviour with that of synthetic alkyl benzene sulfonate isomers, through direct measurements of changes in interfacial tension upon surfactant adsorption. We access millisecond time resolution in kinetic measurements by making use of droplet microfluidics to probe the interfacial tension of hexadecane droplets dispersed in a continuous water phase through monitoring their deformation when the droplets are exposed to shear flows in a microfluidic channel with regular corrugations. Our results reveal that surfactin rapidly adsorbs to the interface, thus the interfacial tension equilibrates within 300 ms, while the synthetic surfactants used undergo adsorption processes at an approximately one order of magnitude longer time scale. The approach presented may provide opportunities for understanding and modulating the adsorption mechanism of amphiphiles on a variety of interfaces in the context of life sciences and industrial applications.