Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, Vol.268, No.1, 230-245, 2003
Polarizaability and complex conductivity of dilute suspensions of spherical colloidal particles with uncharged (neutral) polymer coatings
The polarizability of polymer-coated colloidal particles, as measured via dielectric relaxation spectroscopy, reflects on the degree to which convection, diffusion, and electromigration deform the equilibrium double layer. With a polymer coating, convection and electroosmosis are resisted by hydrodynamic drag on the polymer segments. The electro-osmotic flow near the underlying bare surface is therefore diminished. Characteristics of the particles and the adsorbed polymer can, in principle, be inferred by measuring the frequency-dependent polarizability. In this work, "exact" numerical solutions of the electrokinetic equations are used to examine how adsorbed polymer changes the particle polarizability and, hence, the conductivity and dielectric constant increments of dilute suspensions. For neutral polymer coatings, the conductivity and dielectric constant increments are found to be very similar to those of the underlying bare particles, so the response depends mostly on the underlying bare particles. These observations suggest that dielectric spectroscopy is best used to determine the underlying surface charge, with characteristics of the coating inferred from the electrophoretic or dynamic mobility, together with the hydrodynamic radius obtained from sedimentation or dynamic light scattering. Addressed briefly are the effects of added counterions and nonspecific adsorption. The electrokinetic model explored in this work can be used to guide experiments (frequency and ionic strength, for example) to either minimize or maximize the sensitivity of the complex conductivity to the coating thickness or permeability. (C) 2003 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.