Mapping charge-mosaic surfaces in electrolyte solutions using surface charge microscopy

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A significant limitation of electrokinetic measurements is that only an average value of the zeta potential/streaming potential is measured-regardless of whether the surface charge distribution is homogeneous or otherwise. However, in real-world situations, nearly all solids (and liquids) of technological significance exhibit surface heterogeneities. To detect heterogeneities in surface charge, analytical tools which provide accurate and spatially resolved information about material surface potential-particularly at microscopic and sub-microscopic resolutions-are needed. A novel AFM-based technique for mapping surface charge domains on heterogeneous surfaces, which we call Surface Charge Microscopy (SCM), was recently introduced by our research team. It relies on recording colloidal force curves over multiple locations on the substrate surface using small probes. The surface charge characteristics of the heterogeneous substrate are determined from the recorded colloidal force curves, allowing for the surface charge variation to be mapped. In this communication, we briefly review the SCM technique. Examples of results of measurements of the surface interaction forces that were recorded between a silicon nitride AFM cantilever and a multi-phase volcanic rock and heterogeneous surface of bitumen are also given. © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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Applied Surface Science