Nanoparticle Flotation Collectors III: The Role of Nanoparticle Diameter
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The ability of polystyrene nanoparticles to promote glass bead flotation was measured as a function of nanoparticle diameter. In all cases, smaller nanoparticles were more effective flotation collectors, even when compared at constant nanoparticle number concentration. The superior performance of smaller particles was explained by two mechanisms, acting in parallel. First, smaller particles deposit more quickly giving more effective flotation in those cases where nanoparticle deposition kinetics is rate determining; the sensitivity of nanoparticle deposition rates to particle size was illustrated by kinetic measurements on a quartz crystal microbalance silica surface. Second, for a given coverage of nanoparticles on the glass beads, the mean distance between neighboring nanoparticle surfaces decreases with particle diameter. We propose that the expansion of the three phase contact line, after initial bead/bubble attachment, is favored with decreasing the distance between neighboring hydrophobic particles.
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