Direct measurement of hydrophobic particle-bubble interactions in aqueous solutions by atomic force microscopy: Effect of particle hydrophobicity

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Direct measurements of the interaction forces between a spherical silica particle and a small air bubble have been conducted in aqueous electrolyte solutions by using an atomic force microscope (AFM). The silica particle was hydrophobized with a silanating reagent, and the interaction forces were measured by using several particles with different surface hydrophobicities. In the measured force curves, a repulsive force was observed at large separation distances as the particle moved towards the bubble. The origin of the repulsive force was attributed to an electrostatic double-layer force because both the particle and bubble were negatively charged. After the repulsive force, an extremely long-range attractive force acted between the surfaces. These results indicate that the intervening thin water film between the particle and bubble rapidly collapsed, resulting in the particle penetrating the bubble. The instability of the thin water film between the surfaces suggests the existence of an additional attractive force. By comparing the repulsive forces of the obtained force curves with the DLVO theory, the rupture thickness was estimated. The hydrophobicity of the particle did not significantly change the rupture thickness, whereas the pH of the solution is considered to be a critical factor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-299
Number of pages7
JournalColloids and Surfaces A: Physicochemical and Engineering Aspects
Issue number3 SPEC. ISS.
Publication statusPublished - Jun 15 2007
Externally publishedYes



  • Atomic force microscope
  • Bubble
  • Hydrophobic force
  • Interaction force
  • Particle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry

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