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Attractive Forces between Hydrophobic Solid Surfaces Measured by AFM on the First Approach in Salt Solutions and in the Presence of Dissolved Gases

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journal contribution
posted on 27.01.2016, 12:05 by Mehdi Azadi, Anh V. Nguyen, Gleb E. Yakubov
Interfacial gas enrichment of dissolved gases (IGE) has been shown to cover hydrophobic solid surfaces in water. The atomic force microscopy (AFM) data has recently been supported by molecular dynamics simulation. It was demonstrated that IGE is responsible for the unexpected stability and large contact angle of gaseous nanobubbles at the hydrophobic solid–water interface. Here we provide further evidence of the significant effect of IGE on an attractive force between hydrophobic solid surfaces in water. The force in the presence of dissolved gas, i.e., in aerated and nonaerated NaCl solutions (up to 4 M), was measured by the AFM colloidal probe technique. The effect of nanobubble bridging on the attractive force was minimized or eliminated by measuring forces on the first approach of the AFM probe toward the flat hydrophobic surface and by using high salt concentrations to reduce gas solubility. Our results confirm the presence of three types of forces, two of which are long-range attractive forces of capillary bridging origin as caused by either surface nanobubbles or gap-induced cavitation. The third type is a short-range attractive force observed in the absence of interfacial nanobubbles that is attributed to the IGE in the form of a dense gas layer (DGL) at hydrophobic surfaces. Such a force was found to increase with increasing gas saturation and to decrease with decreasing gas solubility.