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The monomer analog of a common water-soluble charged macromolecule shows surface tilt and cooperative adsorption that would be expected for larger surfactant molecules -the small organic ion behaves as an embryonic surfactant. Yet the organic ion competes with inorganic ions (Na 1 , Mg 11 , etc.) for access to the surface, and therefore its tilt increases with the size of the competing coion. Similar ordering of charged units along a polyelectrolyte chain would be sterically frustrated. Thisdoi:10.1103/physrevlett.80.3646 fatcat:ds4isughwjcs5bawwnixalbhdi