Physical Ageing of the Contact Line on Colloidal Particles at Liquid Interfaces
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CitationKaz, David M., Ryan McGorty, Madhav Mani, Michael P. Brenner, and Vinothan N. Manoharan. 2012. Physical ageing of the contact line on colloidal particles at liquid interfaces. Nature Materials 11(2): 138-142.
AbstractYoung's law predicts that a colloidal sphere in equilibrium with a liquid interface will straddle the two fluids, its height above the interface defined by an equilibrium contact angle. This equilibrium analysis has been used to explain why colloids often bind to liquid interfaces, an effect first observed a century ago by Ramsden and Pickering and later exploited in a wide range of material processes, including emulsification, water purification, mineral recovery, encapsulation, and the making of nanostructured materials. But little is known about the dynamics of binding. Here we show that the adsorption of polystyrene microspheres to a water-oil interface is characterized by a sudden breach and an unexpectedly slow relaxation. Particles do not reach equilibrium even after 100 seconds, and the relaxation appears logarithmic in time, suggesting that complete equilibration may take months. Surprisingly, viscous dissipation appears to play little role. Instead, the observed dynamics, which bear strong resemblance to aging in glassy systems, agree well with a model describing activated hopping of the contact line over nanoscale surface heterogeneities. These results may provide clues to longstanding questions on colloidal interactions at an interface.
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