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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Deposition of colloidal spheres under quiescent conditions Tan, Chai Geok


The phenomenon of deposition (or release) of fine particles or other microscopic species, suspended in a liquid, onto (or from) a foreign substrate surface plays a critical role in many natural and industrial processes. Traditionally, the analysis of this phenomenon has been conceptually divided into two steps — the transport step and the adhesion step. Attempts to understand the role of the adhesion step on the overall deposition process under most practical situations are complicated by the presence of a large number of interdependent parameters such as double layer thickness, particle and wall zeta-potential, particle size and flow, amongst others. Thus, as a first step towards gaining a better understanding of the phenomenon, an experimental study of a very simple deposition system, where only the random nature of the deposition process and the double layer interactions between deposited particles are important, was undertaken. In this idealized system, a stable suspension of monodispersed, negatively charged colloidal silica spheres one micron in diameter, suspended in an aqueous medium in a specially constructed deposition cell, were allowed to settle by gravity and be deposited permanently onto a cationic polymer-coated glass cover slip. The magnitude of surface potential was altered by adjusting the pH of the suspension using NaOH and HC1, while the electrical double layer thickness was varied by dissolving different predetermined quantities of KC1 into the suspension. The results showed that the trends in the experimental surface coverages obtained were in accordance with expectation in that as the double layer thickness, 1/К, or the particle zeta potential, ζ⍴’ , increased (leading to an increase in the interaction energy between the particles), the surface coverage decreased. Furthermore, the extent of surface coverages obtained when both 1/К and ζ⍴ were changed was found to be greater than that when 1/К alone was used as the controlling variable. A separate series of studies examining the effect of substrate double layer thickness on surface coverage was also performed by dissolving different predetermined quantities of K₃PO₄, into the suspension so that the substrate and the particles could differ in their respective double layer thicknesses. The results of surface coverages obtained in this study showed that the influence exerted by the substrate double layer was negligible. Besides these findings, the presence of geometric exclusion due to the random nature of the deposition process was also noted, although its effect was difficult to quantify. Besides the systematic experimental study of colloidal deposition, attempts were made to develop two computer simulation models to generate deposition prediction which could be compared with results measured experimentally. The first scheme involved a two-dimensional simple rejection model where only non-overlapping particles were deposited, while the second scheme consisted of a three-dimensional model where the rolling of sedimenting particles over the surfaces of previously-deposited particles as well as the stacking of particles were allowed. Comparison of experimental results with those obtained using the two-dimensional model revealed that for all cases, the simulated results consistently underpredicted the experimental results due to the oversimplifying nature of the simulation. The trends in the experimentally obtained results, however, were approximated by the simulated results. Owing to its very complex nature, successful completion of the three-dimensional model simulation did not materialize. It is expected, however, that when such a model is successfully completed, it will yield predicted results which are in better quantitative agreement with those measured experimentally. Besides the above, a separate study examining the effects of reaction temperature and the types of alcoholic solvent used on the properties of silica particles produced was also performed. This study led to the development of a novel method in which dispersed, uniform-sized, spherical silica particles in the size range of 0.2 to 2.0 µm can be produced by simply varying the reaction temperature and the type of alcoholic solvent used.

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