Tech-corner: innovation from public Research

Each year, the Tech Corner showcases cutting-edge technology in partnership with the CNRS (French National Research Center)


After the success in 2019 of the Paper Touch packaging innovation, for 2020 edition, it was the turn of CÏSCO2, a research group from the University of Lille, to surprise us with a new method for characterising surfactants.

Ubiquitous in cosmetic preparations, surfactants have combination properties and the ability to modify surface/interface tension. It is notably thanks to them that cosmetic products have a foaming or emulsifying function.

Why is it so important to characterize surfactants?

The characterization of surfactants in order to « choose » the best alternative to a specific application is complex. Since 1949, there is the HLB (or Griffin scale) which consists in assigning a number between 1 and 20 to each surfactant. But this method has limits, especially for compounds of complex structure.

The PIT-Slope method makes it possible to characterize them in a complex mixture as a cosmetic product. CÏSCO2 has developed a simple method to characterize all surfactants in relation to a reference surfactant (C10E4). The method is based on the disturbance of the phase inversion temperature (PIT) of the reference system by the surfactant to be studied and allows to quantify the hydrophilic/hydrophobic power of the surfactant with a numerical value called PIT-Slope.