Measuring the influence of solution chemistry on the adhesion of Au nanoparticles to mica using colloid probe atomic force microscopy

Beng Joo Reginald Thio, Jung Hyun Lee, J. Carson Meredith, Arturo A. Keller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Engineered nanoparticles are used increasingly in numerous commercial products, leading to concerns over their environmental fate and ecotoxicity. We report the adaptation of colloid probe atomic force microscopy (AFM) to quantitatively determine the adhesive behavior of gold nanoparticles (Au NPs) with mica, chosen as a model for sand, in various water chemistries. Au NP-covered polystyrene (PS) beads were prepared by a combined swellingheteroaggregation (CSH) technique prior to attachment to tipless AFM cantilevers. Force measurements were performed over a range of solution conditions (pH, ionic strength (IS), and natural organic matter (NOM) content). Plain PS beads with no Au NPs were used as controls. In general, adhesion of Au NP-PS beads to mica were found to increase as IS increased while a rise in pH led to a decrease in adhesion. Plain PS beads were not observed to adhere to mica in any of the experimental solution conditions, and the PS force curves were unaffected by changes in the pH and electrolyte concentrations. In the presence of NOM, pull-off forces for Au NP-PS beads increased in magnitude when NaCl was added. In addition, the experimental approach force curves were not successfully described by the classical Derjaguin-Landau-Verwey-Overbeek (DLVO) theory of colloidal stability. To reconcile the discrepancy between theory and experiment, an extended DLVO (xDLVO) empirical model was used to account for the contribution of non- DLVO interactions (known collectively as structural forces) between the Au NPs and mica surfaces.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13995-14003
Number of pages9
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Sept 7
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Spectroscopy
  • Electrochemistry


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