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Forces and Stability in Ternary Colloidal Systems: Evidence of Synergistic Effects
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Understanding and controlling the forces between colloidal particles in solution, along with the resulting stability of a dispersion of such particles, continues to be at topic of great interest. Although most laboratory studies focus on model systems in which the number of system species is kept to a minimum, real colloidal systems can be much more complex, consisting of multiple components that can vary greatly in size, charge, shape, etc. This dissertation focused on a topic that has received very little prior study, namely synergistic effects that can arise in mixed colloidal systems in which the resulting force and stability of the system cannot be predicted using results obtained in more idealized systems consisting of fewer components. Two specific systems were studied. The first was a ternary system of particles in which micron-sized particles were in a dispersion containing both nanoparticles and submicron particles. It was shown through both computation modeling and direct force measurements that the nanoparticles can create attractive forces between the micron and submicron particles such that a halo of submicron particles is formed. This halo results in long range forces between the microparticles that cannot be predicted from measurements in systems containing only nanoparticles or only submicron particles. In addition, the forces can be large enough to alter the stability of a dispersion of these microparticles. The second system consisted of microparticles in a solution containing nanoparticles and a polyelectrolyte, specifically poly(acrylic) acid. Again, through modeling and experimentation, it was found that complexation of the nanoparticles and polyelectrolyte molecules led to depletion and structural forces between the microparticles that were substantially greater than the sum of the forces measured in systems of only nanoparticles or only polyelectrolyte. It was also found that these greater forces could lead to destabilization of a dispersion of microparticles that was stable when only nanoparticles or only polyelectrolyte was present. While these results clearly demonstrate the difficulty associated with predicting forces and stability in mixed colloidal systems, they also indicate that such systems offer new and interesting opportunities for controlling stability that clearly warrant additional study.
- Doctoral Dissertations