Langmuir, Vol.20, No.10, 3940-3946, 2004
Directed assembly and rupture mechanics of colloidal aggregates
The macroscopic rheological behavior of colloidal gels arises from the micromechanical properties of the gel backbone, which are governed by nanoscale particle interactions. These colloidal interactions have been commonly understood in terms of the Derjaguin-Landau-Verwey-Overbeek (DLVO) theory. Recent work has shown, however, that nonidealities, such as surface roughness and charge nominiformity, may cause the particle interactions to significantly deviate from DLVO predictions at near-contact separations. Here we present novel techniques for directing the assembly of colloidal aggregates that mimic the gel backbone, based on optical micromanipulation. of multiple particles using laser tweezers. This also provides an in situ method for measuring near-contact interactions via single-bond rupture forces. We find that PMM particles aggregated in the presence of nonorganic salts exhibit interparticle bond strengths more than 10 times greater than those predicted by DLVO theory. However, good agreement is found with DLVO predictions when the anionic surfactant sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) is used as the flocculant.