AFM colloidal forces measured between microscopic probes and flat substrates in nanoparticle suspensions

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Colloidal forces between atomic force microscopy probes of 0.12 and 0.58 N/m spring constant and flat substrates in nanoparticle suspensions were measured. Silicon nitride tips and glass spheres with a diameter of 5 and 15 μm were used as the probes whereas mica and silicon wafer were used as substrates. Aqueous suspensions were made of 5-80 nm alumina and 10 nm silica particles. Oscillatory force profiles were obtained using atomic force microscope. This finding indicates that the nanoparticles remain to be stratified in the intervening liquid films between the probe and substrate during the force measurements. Such structural effects were manifested for systems featuring attractive and weak repulsive interactions of nanoparticles with the probe and substrate. Oscillation of the structural forces shows a periodicity close to the size of nanoparticles in the suspension. When the nanoparticles are oppositely charged to the probes, they tend to coat the probes and hinder probe-substrate contact. © 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Journal of Colloid and Interface Science