Colloidal Particles at Fluid Interfaces and the Interface of Colloidal Fluids

Thesis Type:

PhD Thesis


Holographic microscopy is a unifying theme in the different projects discussed in this thesis. The technique allows one to observe microscopic objects, like colloids and droplets, in a three-dimensional (3D) volume. Unlike scanning 3D optical techniques, holography captures a sample’s 3D information in a single image: the hologram. Therefore, one can capture 3D information at video frame rates. The price for such speed is paid in computation time. The 3D information must be extracted from the image by methods such as reconstruction or fitting the hologram to scattering calculations. Using holography, we observe a single colloidal particle approach, penetrate and then slowly equilibrate at an oil–water interface. Because the particle moves along the optical axis (z-axis) and perpendicular to the interface holography is used to determine its position. We are able to locate the particle’s z-position to within a few nanometers with a time resolution below a millisecond. We find that the capillary force pulling the particle into the interface is not balanced by a hydrodynamic force. Rather, a larger-than-viscous dissipation associated with the three-phase contact-line slipping over the particle’s surface results in equilibration on time scales orders of magnitude longer than the minute time scales over which our setup allows us to examine. A separate project discussed here also examines colloidal particles and fluid-fluid interfaces. But the fluids involved are composed of colloids. With a colloid and polymer water-based mixture we study the phase separation of the colloid-rich (or liquid) and colloid-poor (or gas) region. In comparison to the oil–water interface in the previously mentioned project, the interface between the colloidal liquid and gas phases has a surface tension nearly six orders of magnitude smaller. So interfacial fluctuations are observable under microscopy. We also use holographic microscopy to study this system but not to track particles with great time and spatial resolution. Rather, holography allows us to observe nucleation of the liquid phase occurring throughout our sample volume.

Last updated on 03/26/2016