Similar term(s): Quats, Quaternary ammonium salt, Quaternary ammonium compound.
Quaternary ammonium cations are positively charged ions with
the structure NR4+ with N being a nitrogen atom and R being alkyl groups
consisting of carbon and hydrogen atoms arranged in a chain. They are
permanently charged, independently of the acidity of their solution.
Quaternary ammonium salts, also referred to as
quaternary ammonium compounds or “quats”, are
salts of quaternary ammonium cations combined with a negatively charged
anion. They are used as disinfectants,
surfactants, fabric softeners, and as antistatic agents (e.g. in shampoo).