Influence of Capillary Bridge Formation onto the Silica Nanoparticle Interaction Studied by Grand Canonical Monte Carlo Simulations

S Leroch and M Wendland, LANGMUIR, 29, 12410-12420 (2013).

DOI: 10.1021/la402002f

Adhesion forces between nanoparticles strongly depend on the amount of adsorbed condensed water from ambient atmosphere. Liquid water forms bridges in the cavities separating the particles, giving rise to the, so-called capillary forces which in most cases dominate the van der Waals and long-range electrostatic interactions. Capillary forces promote the undesirable agglomeration of particles to large clusters, thereby hindering the flowability of dry powders in process containers. In process engineering macroscopic theories based on the Laplace pressures are used to estimate the strength of the capillary forces. However, especially for low relative humidity and when the wetting of rough or small nanoparticles is studied, those theories can fail. Molecular dynamic simulations can help to give better insight into the water particle interface. The simulated force versus distance curve as well as adhesion forces and the adsorption isotherm for silica nanoparticles at varying relative humidity will be discussed in comparison to experiments, theories, and simulations.

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