Controlling porosity within colloidal heteroaggregates

Langmuir. 2005 Nov 22;21(24):11439-45. doi: 10.1021/la051957o.


Heteroaggregates of cationic poly(2-vinylpyridine) microgels and anionic polystyrene latex particles have been made by mixing dilute, aqueous suspensions. The growth of the heteroaggregates was arrested by the addition of anionic silica particles that adsorbed to the free surface of the cationic microgel particles. The resulting heteroaggregates were then concentrated by vacuum filtration, freeze-dried, and characterized by mercury porosimetry and electron microscopy. The inclusion of soft, deformable microgels resulted in heteroaggregates with higher porosity than obtained with heteroaggregates of anionic and cationic latex particles. Control of the pore volumes within the freeze-dried filter cakes was demonstrated by two approaches. In the first approach, heteroaggregation at a constant KCl concentration of 0.01 mM was arrested at different times after mixing the latex and microgel particles, thereby limiting the size of the aggregates. The porosity of the resulting filter cake increased from 61 to 65 vol % as the aggregation time increased from 15 to 120 s. In the second technique, the aggregation time prior to arrest was maintained at 120 s while the KCl concentration was varied between 0.01 and 10 mM. The pore volume of the aggregates decreased from 65 to 57 vol % as the electrolyte concentration increased, a trend explained in terms of the effect of the Debye length on the aggregation process.