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Open Access Exploring Forces between Individual Colloidal Particles with the Atomic Force Microscope

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Forces between individual colloidal particles can be measured with the atomic force microscope (AFM), and this technique permits the study of interactions between surfaces across aqueous solutions in great detail. The most relevant forces are described by the Derjaguin, Landau, Verwey, and Overbeek (DLVO) theory, and they include electrostatic double-layer and van der Waals forces. In symmetric systems, the electrostatic forces are repulsive and depend strongly on the type and concentration of the salts present, while van der Waals forces are always attractive. In asymmetric systems, the electrostatic force can become attractive as well, even when involving neutral surfaces, while in rare situations van der Waals forces can become repulsive too. The enormous sensitivity of the double layer forces on additives present is illustrated with oppositely charged polyelectrolytes, which may induce attractions or repulsions depending on their concentrations.

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Keywords: ATOMIC FORCE MICROSCOPE; COLLOIDAL PROBE TECHNIQUE; DLVO THEORY; DOUBLE-LAYER FORCES; VAN DER WAALS FORCES

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: SCS-Metrohm Foundation Award for best oral presentation, Department of Inorganic, Analytical and Applied Chemistry, Sciences II 30, Quai Ernest-Ansermet, CH-1211 Geneva 4, Switzerland 2: Department of Inorganic, Analytical and Applied Chemistry, Sciences II 30, Quai Ernest-Ansermet, CH-1211 Geneva 4, Switzerland 3: Department of Inorganic, Analytical and Applied Chemistry, Sciences II 30, Quai Ernest-Ansermet, CH-1211 Geneva 4, Switzerland. [email protected]

Publication date: 01 April 2012

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  • International Journal for Chemistry and Official Membership Journal of the Swiss Chemical Society (SCS) and its Divisions

    CHIMIA, a scientific journal for chemistry in the broadest sense, is published 10 times a year and covers the interests of a wide and diverse readership. Contributions from all fields of chemistry and related areas are considered for publication in the form of Review Articles and Notes. A characteristic feature of CHIMIA are the thematic issues, each devoted to an area of great current significance.

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