Interactions between ?-alumina surfaces in water and aqueous salt solutions

O Drecun and C Bernardini and M Sarwar and A Striolo, COLLOIDS AND SURFACES A-PHYSICOCHEMICAL AND ENGINEERING ASPECTS, 676, 132152 (2023).

DOI: 10.1016/j.colsurfa.2023.132152

Particle agglomeration is relevant to numerous industrial applications and consumer products. The present work explores interactions between and agglomeration of gamma (& gamma;)-alumina nanoparticles in pure water and dilute aqueous salt solutions. To characterize surface-and salt-specific effects, potential of mean force (PMF) profiles between & gamma;-alumina surfaces (110 and 100 facets) are extracted using classical molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. Supporting experiments are conducted using dynamic light scattering (DLS) to investigate agglomeration at the macroscale. The ion pairs considered are sodium chloride, ammonium acetate, barium nitrate, and barium acetate; sampling a broad range of the Hofmeister series. As particle surfaces approach contact, free-energy fluctuations of the PMF profiles reflect structural adjustments of the intervening aqueous phase. We extract values for the cohesive energy from the MD results, and parse the resultant effective pair interactions into van der Waals and electrostatic contributions. Molecular scale findings from simulations correlate with hydrodynamic radii of & gamma;-alumina nanoparticles, obtained from DLS experiments. The results highlight the applicability of molecular simulations to identify the origins of macroscale observables.

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