Sedimenting colloidal particles may feel a surprisingly strong buoyancy in a mixture with other particles of a considerably larger size. In this paper we investigated the buoyancy of colloidal particles in a concentrated binary suspension in situ in a centrifugal field. After dispersing two different fluorescence-labeled silica nanoparticles with a large size ratio (90 nm and 30 nm, size ratio: 3) in a refractive index matching solvent, we used a multi-wavelength analytical ultracentrifuge to measure the concentration gradients of both particles in situ. The concentration of the 90 nm silica nanoparticles was used to calculate the effective solvent density for the 30 nm silica nanoparticles. The exponential Boltzmann equation for the sedimentation-diffusion equilibrium with locally varying effective solvent density was then used to theoretically predict the concentration gradient of 30 nm silica nanoparticles, which describes the experimental results very well. This finding proves the validity of effective buoyancy in colloidal mixtures and provides a good model to study sedimenting polydisperse colloids.
- analytical ultracentrifugation
- binary colloidal nanoparticles
- effective buoyancy
- generalized Archimedes’ principle
- high concentration
- generalized Archimedes' principle