FYI to start- I'm not a chemist by training, so assume I'm missing some basic knowledge of the field.

I've been trying to do some electrodeposition with an iridium tetrachloride-based solution, and my success at doing so is random at best. In talking to a chemist, they suggested that I buy new glassware and perform nitric acid or sulfuric acid cleaning on all of my glassware; according to them, my cleaning the glassware with regular dish soap (I've been using Dawn) has most likely coated everything in surfactants and those are releasing micelles of surfactant into all of my solutions.

I believe what this person is telling me, as I can read about surfactants forming micelles. However, in a search of both academic (e.g. Scopus) and non-academic sources (read: Google), I can't find any detailed information on this issue, or its prevention, in lab settings; I also can't find details about how these surfactant micelles actually affect a process like electrodeposition. I seem to only be able to find random informal glassware cleaning SOPs from different labs, but no good reading on surfactant contamination in electrochemistry experiments.

Am I searching the wrong keywords? Is this too broad a question? Is this just common knowledge among chemists because of their knowledge base?


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    $\begingroup$ Well, yes, consider this a common knowledge. Surfactant contamination is a thing. $\endgroup$ – Ivan Neretin Jan 9 at 15:59
  • $\begingroup$ @PoGami, Is this a part of a formal academic research project or just a home experiment? The actual glassware cleaning systems are too dangerous, they are used where really clean glassware is needed. On the other hand, micelle can only form under a certain concentration and they cannot permanently stick to glass. You might have surfactant contamination due to improper rinsing but not as micelles. $\endgroup$ – M. Farooq Jan 9 at 16:13
  • $\begingroup$ @M.Farooq - I view it a bit differently. I'd absolutely believe that the surface of the glassware could be contaminated, that the contaminating molecules could go into solution and then form micelles in the solution. I totally agree that micelles themselves are not going to be sticking to the glassware and then dissolve into the solution. $\endgroup$ – MaxW Jan 9 at 18:34
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    $\begingroup$ @MaxW, But remember that micelles can only be formed when the surfactant conc. exceeds the critical micelle concentration in solution. Suppose a clean glassware has been washed several times, by no means, it can exceed critical micelle concentration in a solution. Yes there will be surfactant in solution but in ppm levels or even less. $\endgroup$ – M. Farooq Jan 9 at 18:45
  • $\begingroup$ @M.Farooq: yes, this is formal research being carried out in an academic lab. I've viewed SDS' and have done the cleaning in a fume hood with proper secondary storage. $\endgroup$ – PoGaMi Jan 9 at 20:53

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