Measurement of long-range repulsive forces between charged particles at an oil-water interface

Phys Rev Lett. 2002 Jun 17;88(24):246102. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.88.246102. Epub 2002 Jun 3.


Using a laser tweezers method, we have determined the long-range repulsive force as a function of separation between two charged, spherical polystyrene particles (2.7 microm diameter) present at a nonpolar oil-water interface. At large separations (6 to 12 microm between particle centers) the force is found to decay with distance to the power -4 and is insensitive to the ionic strength of the aqueous phase. The results are consistent with a model in which the repulsion arises primarily from the presence of a very small residual electric charge at the particle-oil interface. This charge corresponds to a fractional dissociation of the total ionizable (sulfate) groups present at the particle-oil surface of approximately 3 x 10(-4).