Charged particles at fluid interfaces as a probe into structural details of a double layer

Phys Chem Chem Phys. 2011 Mar 7;13(9):4109-18. doi: 10.1039/c0cp01912g. Epub 2011 Jan 13.


Electrostatic interactions between charged, distant colloids in a bulk electrolyte solution do not depend on the inherent structure of ions and a solvent forming a double layer. For charged colloids trapped at an interface between an electrolyte and air this no longer holds; as the electrostatic interactions are mediated via air and the field lines determining the interactions originate at the charged surface, these details come into prominence. Using the Langevin-Poisson-Boltzmann equation we investigate how steric effects and the polarization saturation of a solvent effect the contact potential at the colloid surface and, in consequence, the long range interactions between colloids trapped at an interface. For a surface charge 0.4 C m(-2) the combination of these effects can increase the interactions by up to ∼40 times when compared to Poisson-Boltzmann calculations. The validity of these enhancement mechanisms is supported by recent experimental data (K. Masschaele et al., Phys. Rev. Lett., 2010, 105, 048303).