Adhesion attenuation and enhancement in aqueous solutions

Bowen, James; Rossetto, Herbert L. and Kendall, Kevin (2014). Adhesion attenuation and enhancement in aqueous solutions. In: Cell Adhesion Century: Culture Breakthrough, 28-29 Apr 2014, London, UK.



When two surfaces confine water layers between them at the nanoscale, the behaviour of these confined water molecules can deviate significantly from the behaviour of bulk water, and it could reflect on the adhesion of such surfaces. This study assesses the role of confined water layers on the adhesion of hydrophilic surfaces and how sensitive this adhesion is to the presence of contaminants. Our methodology used atomic force microscopy adhesion measurements, whereby an alumina-sputtered sphere-tipped cantilever was interacted versus a flat alumina single crystal. Testing was performed under immersed conditions using (i) water, (ii) water/dimethylformamide mixtures, (iii) water/ethanol mixtures, and (iv) water/formamide mixtures. These solutions were intended to assess the influence of dielectric constant, molecule size, and the number of hydrogen bonding opportunities available to molecules upon confinement between surfaces. It was found that dilute concentrations of ethanol and formamide decreased the adhesion. In contrast, the adhesion increased in the presence of dilute concentrations of dimethylformamide. The adhesion was attenuated by in excess of two orders of magnitude for high concentrations of the organic solutes.

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