Charge Stabilization in Nonpolar Solvents

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Original Entry by Michelle Borkin, AP225 Fall 2009


Charge Stabilization in Nonpolar Solvents.

M. F. Hsu, E. R. Dufresne, and D. A. Weitz, Langmuir 21, 4881-4887 (2005).


Colloidal Dispersion, interaction potential, Reverse Micelle, surface potential, Debye length


This paper investigates the use of surfactants to control charges is nonpolar solvents (<math>\epsilon \approx 2</math> versus for an aqueous solution <math>\epsilon \approx 80</math>) where the electrostatic charge barrier is much greater than kT. Understanding nonpolar solvents and colloid interactions are important for industrial and commercial applications such as electrophoretic ink or the stabilization of soot particles in oil. Surfactants play the key role in creating in such solutions the charge-stabilizing aggregates. The research presented in this paper focuses on nanometer sized reverse micelles in nonpolar solvents and investigates the electrokinetics and thermodynamic properties to explain how the micelles control charge. As opposed to simple salt ions, these large reverse micelles have low ionization energies and charge surfaces by stabilizing counterions. They find very strong surface potentials (2.0-4.4 kT) and Debye screening lengths (0.2-1.4 <math>\mu m</math>) that strongly depend on the concentration of reverse micelles in the system.

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Schematic of the experiment.

For the experiments, the reverse micelles were created using aerosol-OT (AOT) which forms nanometer sized reversed micelles (contains ~30 surfactant molecules) above its 1mM in dodecane critical micelle concentration (cmc). The colloid particles in the system are PMMA particles with PHSA grafted to their surface for steric stabilization (radius = 780 nm). The solution is contained in cells between glass plates thus the model and results presented are based on 2D descriptions and analysis. As shown in Figure 1, when AOT (i.e. the reverse micelles) is added to the solution (b) the colloidal particles evenly disperse due to the electrostatic forces.

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