Dynamic Surface Tension as a Probe of Irreversible Adsorption of Nanoparticles at Fluid-Fluid Interfaces
MetadataShow full item record
Adsorption-mediated self-assembly of nanoparticles at fluid interfaces, driven by reduction in interfacial energy, leads to stabilization of emulsions and foams and can be used for the bottom-up fabrication of functional nanostructured materials. Improved understanding of the parameters that control the self-assembly, the structure of nanoparticles at the interface, the barrier properties of the assembly and the rate of particle attachment and exchange is needed if such nanoparticle assemblies are to be employed for the design and fabrication of novel materials and devices. Here, I report on the use of dynamic surface tension (DST) measurements to probe the kinetics of irreversible adsorption and self-assembly of hydrophobic ethyl-cellulose (EC) nanoparticles at the air-water interface. Using thermodynamic arguments, I make a direct connection between the DST and the time-dependent surface coverage. I show that adsorption models appropriate for surfactants (e.g., Ward and Tordai model) break down for irreversible adsorption of nanoparticles, when the adsorption energy far exceeds the mean energy of thermal fluctuations (kBT) and surface blocking effects give rise to a steric barrier to adsorption. I show instead that irreversible adsorption kinetics are unequivocally characterized in terms of the adsorption rate constant and the maximum (jamming) coverage, both of which are determined on the basis of DST data using the generalized random sequential adsorption theory (RSA) for the first time. Novel accurate estimates of the adsorption energy of 42 nm and 89 nm EC nanoparticles are also provided. Coverage of the interface to the jamming limit of 91%, corresponding to a triangular lattice in 2D, is experimentally demonstrated. Colloidal solutions of EC nanoparticles are stabilized at neutral pH by electrostatic repulsive forces. Strong adsorption of these particles at an interface of like charge suggests the parallel action of attractive hydrophobic forces.