Concentration and solvency effects on the pair interaction between colloidal particles in a solution of nonadsorbing polymer

R. Tuinier, G.J. Fleer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


We present a simple analytical mean-field theory for the pair interaction between two colloidal particles, based upon a recent mean-field equation for the depletion thickness δ which depends on the chain length N, the bulk concentration φb, and the solvency χ. Only in the extremely dilute case is (in mean field) the interaction independent of χ. At relevant concentrations a better solvency leads for two flat plates to a stronger attraction at contact (∼φb/δ) and a smaller range of attraction. This range is 2δi, where the "interaction distance" δi is in semidilute solutions larger than δ. In the dilute limit, both δ and δi reduce to depletion thickness δ0 of ideal chains. The pair potential for flat plates can be described by a modified Asakura-Oosawa equation, in which δi takes the place of the original δ0; this replacement accounts for the concentration and solvency dependence. For the interaction between two spheres of radius a the contact potential is of order aφb and nearly insensitive to solvency; again, the range of attraction is smaller for better solvents. For two spheres we calculate the second virial coefficient as a function of concentration and solvent quality and its consequences for the stability of a colloidal dispersion at low colloid concentrations. For relatively short polymer chains the solvent quality hardly matters, For intermediate and large polymer-to-colloid size ratios, increasing the solvent quality leads to an increased miscibility. This implies that the increase in the osmotic pressure for polymers in a good solvent is overcompensated by a decrease of the depletion thickness, leading to weaker interactions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8764-8772
Number of pages9
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 16 Nov 2004
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Concentration and solvency effects on the pair interaction between colloidal particles in a solution of nonadsorbing polymer'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this