Bob Aveyard reviews this introduction to interfacial science

Interfacial science: an introduction
G. T. Barnes and I. R. Gentle
Oxford: OUP
2005 | 263pp | £25.99
ISBN 0199278822

The authors have set out to produce a book to fill a gap between 'advanced texts and smaller texts providing a fairly qualitative treatment'. Intended for intermediate and senior undergraduates in chemistry and related subjects, the authors claim the book could also serve as an introduction to the subject for research students. Given the range of the subject matter covered (much of surface and colloid chemistry), and the size of the book, the authors have perhaps been optimistic in their aims. 

Good coverage of the thermo-dynamics of surfaces and of adsorption at the gas-liquid interface is provided in the early chapters, but even here some of the subject matter (films, foams and aerosols) has had to be so curtailed as to make it of little academic use. The most thorough chapter is that dealing with insoluble monolayers and Langmuir-Blodgett multilayers.  

Only 26 pages are allotted in chapter six to cover emulsions, microemulsions, liquid-liquid extraction, and membranes. Here the coverage is again probably too rudimentary to be of much use to sections of the target readership. The solid-gas interface is treated in chapters seven and eight, the former giving a useful summary of methods (XPS, AES, SIMS, LEED, AFM and STM) for probing the properties of solid surfaces. Adsorption onto solids is the subject of chapter eight, which covers both physical and chemical adsorption. The coverage is standard, simple and brief. The solid-liquid interface and colloids are given a basic coverage in just 30 pages in chapter nine. The book concludes with a short and interesting discussion of biological interfaces.  

Beautifully produced and illustrated, the book is easy to read. The content is well-referenced and, importantly, there are exercises at the ends of chapters. If you are looking for a largely qualitative text for first-year, or possibly second-year, undergraduates at a reasonable price, this book could be for you. If, however, you want something to suit more senior students or postgraduates, look elsewhere.

The second edition of this book has been published.