American Chemical Society
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Parameter Identifiability in Application of Soft Particle Electrokinetic Theory To Determine Polymer and Polyelectrolyte Coating Thicknesses on Colloids

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journal contribution
posted on 2012-07-17, 00:00 authored by Stacey M. Louie, Tanapon Phenrat, Mitchell J. Small, Robert D. Tilton, Gregory V. Lowry
Soft particle electrokinetic models have been used to determine adsorbed nonionic polymer and polyelectrolyte layer properties on nanoparticles or colloids by fitting electrophoretic mobility data. Ohshima first established the formalism for these models and provided analytical approximations (Ohshima, H. Adv. Colloid Interface Sci. 1995, 62, 189). More recently, exact numerical solutions have been developed, which account for polarization and relaxation effects and require fewer assumptions on the particle and soft layer properties. This paper characterizes statistical uncertainty in the polyelectrolyte layer charge density, layer thickness, and permeability (Brinkman screening length) obtained from fitting data to either the analytical or numerical electrokinetic models. Various combinations of particle core and polymer layer properties are investigated to determine the range of systems for which this analysis can provide a solution with reasonably small uncertainty bounds, particularly for layer thickness. Identifiability of layer thickness in the analytical model ranges from poor confidence for cases with thick, highly charged coatings, to good confidence for cases with thin, low-charged coatings. Identifiability is similar for the numerical model, except that sensitivity is improved at very high charge and permeability, where polarization and relaxation effects are significant. For some poorly identifiable cases, parameter reduction can reduce collinearity to improve identifiability. Analysis of experimental data yielded results consistent with expectations from the simulated theoretical cases. Identifiability of layer charge density and permeability is also evaluated. Guidelines are suggested for evaluation of statistical confidence in polymer and polyelectrolyte layer parameters determined by application of the soft particle electrokinetic theory.