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Enhanced Aggregation of Alginate-Coated Iron Oxide (Hematite) Nanoparticles in the Presence of Calcium, Strontium, and Barium Cations

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Department of Chemical Engineering, Environmental Engineering Program, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06520-8286, and Department of Chemistry, Lafayette College, Easton, Pennsylvania 18042-1782
Cite this: Langmuir 2007, 23, 11, 5920–5928
Publication Date (Web):May 1, 2007
Copyright © 2007 American Chemical Society

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    Abstract Image

    Early-stage aggregation kinetics studies of alginate-coated hematite nanoparticles in solutions containing alkaline-earth metal cations revealed enhanced aggregation rates in the presence of Ca2+, Sr2+, and Ba2+, but not with Mg2+. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) imaging of the aggregates provided evidence that alginate gel formation was essential for enhanced aggregation to occur. Dynamic light scattering (DLS) aggregation results clearly indicated that a much lower concentration of Ba2+ compared to Ca2+ and Sr2+ was required to achieve a similar degree of enhanced aggregation in each system. To elucidate the relationship between the alginate's affinities for divalent cations and the enhanced aggregation of the alginate-coated hematite nanoparticles, atomic force microscopy (AFM) was employed to probe the interaction forces between alginate-coated hematite surfaces under the solution chemistries used for the aggregation study. Maximum adhesion forces, maximum pull-off distances, and the work of adhesion were used as indicators to gauge the alginate's affinity for the divalent cations and the resulting attractive interactions between alginate-coated hematite nanoparticles. The results showed that alginate had higher affinity for Ba2+ than either Sr2+ or Ca2+. This same trend was consistent with the cation concentrations required for comparable enhanced aggregation kinetics, suggesting that the rate of alginate gel formation controls the enhanced aggregation kinetics. An aggregation mechanism incorporating the gelation of alginate is proposed to explain the accelerated aggregate growth in the presence of Ca2+, Sr2+, and Ba2+.

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     Yale University.

     Lafayette College.


     To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: [email protected]. Phone:  (203) 432-2789.

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