Gravimetric and density profiling using the combination of surface acoustic waves and neutron reflectivity

Daniel T.W. Toolan, Robert Barker, Tim Gough, Paul D. Topham, Jonathan R. Howse, Andrew Glidle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A new approach is described herein, where neutron reflectivity measurements that probe changes in the density profile of thin films as they absorb material from the gas phase have been combined with a Love wave based gravimetric assay that measures the mass of absorbed material. This combination of techniques not only determines the spatial distribution of absorbed molecules, but also reveals the amount of void space within the thin film (a quantity that can be difficult to assess using neutron reflectivity measurements alone). The uptake of organic solvent vapours into spun cast films of polystyrene has been used as a model system with a view to this method having the potential for extension to the study of other systems. These could include, for example, humidity sensors, hydrogel swelling, biomolecule adsorption or transformations of electroactive and chemically reactive thin films. This is the first ever demonstration of combined neutron reflectivity and Love wave-based gravimetry and the experimental caveats, limitations and scope of the method are explored and discussed in detail.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)465-474
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Colloid and Interface Science
Early online date22 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017

Bibliographical note

© 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (

Funding: EPSRC (R127202).


  • neutron reflectivity
  • love wave gravimetry
  • interfacial characterisation
  • thin film microstructure


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