Thursday, April 18, 2013

Electrophoretic Retardation of Colloidal Particles in Nonpolar Liquids

Filip Strubbe, Filip Beunis, Toon Brans, Masoumeh Karvar, Wouter Woestenborghs, and Kristiaan Neyts 
We have measured the electrophoretic mobility of single, optically trapped colloidal particles, while gradually depleting the co-ions and counterions in the liquid around the particle by applying a dc voltage. This is achieved in a nonpolar liquid, where charged reverse micelles act as co-ions and counterions. By increasing the dc voltage, the mobility first increases when the concentrations of co-ions and counterions near the particle start to decrease. At sufficiently high dc voltage (around 2 V), the mobility reaches a saturation value when the co-ions and counterions are fully separated. The increase in mobility is larger when the equilibrium ionic strength is higher. The dependence of the experimental data on the equilibrium ionic strength and on the applied voltage is in good agreement with the standard theory of electrophoretic retardation, assuming that the bare particle charge remains constant. This method is useful for studying the electrophoretic retardation effect and charging mechanisms for nonpolar colloids, and it sheds light on previously unexplained particle acceleration in electronic ink devices.
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