Measuring forces and spatiotemporal evolution of thin water films between an air bubble and solid surfaces of different hydrophobicity.

Research paper by Chen C Shi, Xin X Cui, Lei L Xie, Qingxia Q Liu, Derek Y C DY Chan, Jacob N JN Israelachvili, Hongbo H Zeng

Indexed on: 17 Dec '14Published on: 17 Dec '14Published in: ACS Nano


A combination of atomic force microscopy (AFM) and reflection interference contrast microscopy (RICM) was used to measure simultaneously the interaction force and the spatiotemporal evolution of the thin water film between a bubble in water and mica surfaces with varying degrees of hydrophobicity. Stable films, supported by the repulsive van der Waals-Casimir-Lifshitz force were always observed between air bubble and hydrophilic mica surfaces (water contact angle, θ(w) < 5°) whereas bubble attachment occurred on hydrophobized mica surfaces. A theoretical model, based on the Reynolds lubrication theory and the augmented Young-Laplace equation including the effects of disjoining pressure, provided excellent agreement with experiment results, indicating the essential physics involved in the interaction between air bubble and solid surfaces can be elucidated. A hydrophobic interaction free energy per unit area of the form: WH(h) = -γ(1 - cos θ(w))exp(-h/D(H)) can be used to quantify the attraction between bubble and hydrophobized solid substrate at separation, h, with γ being the surface tension of water. For surfaces with water contact angle in the range 45° < θ(w) < 90°, the decay length DH varied between 0.8 and 1.0 nm. This study quantified the hydrophobic interaction in asymmetric system between air bubble and hydrophobic surfaces, and provided a feasible method for synchronous measurements of the interaction forces with sub-nN resolution and the drainage dynamics of thin films down to nm thickness.