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ABSTRACT: Viscoelastic behavior of a solution boundary layer at a solid-liquid interface could differ from that of bulk solution due to molecular adsorption at the interface. Such a property can be used as a characteristic signature to indicate the molecular adsorption at the interface. In this work, we systematically measured the viscoelastic properties of polyethylene glycol (PEG) solution boundary layers in contact with a gold surface using a quartz crystal resonator technique. The results show that viscosity and shear modulus of the PEG boundary layer increase with the PEG concentration in the solution; the increasing rate depends on the molecular weight. For relatively small PEG molecules, the viscoelastic property of the PEG solution boundary layer is almost indistinguishable from that of the bulk solution of the same concentration, indicating no adsorption at the interface. For larger PEG polymers (with molecular weights above a few thousands grams per mole), the viscoelastic property of the solution boundary layer differs distinctively from that of the corresponding bulk solution. The difference can be attributed to physisorption of PEG molecules on the Au surface, which alters the viscoelastic behaviors of the boundary layer. The results suggest that adsorption behaviors of macromolecules at a solid-liquid interface might be inferred from the changes of the viscoelastic properties of a solution boundary layer.
Journal of Colloid and Interface Science 06/2012; 383(1):208-14. · 3.55 Impact Factor