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Journal Article

Microparticle Brownian motion near an air-water interface governed by direction-dependent boundary conditions


Daddi-Moussa-Ider,  Abdallah       
Department of Living Matter Physics, Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization, Max Planck Society;

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Villa, S., Blanc, C., Daddi-Moussa-Ider, A., Stocco, A., & Nobili, M. (2023). Microparticle Brownian motion near an air-water interface governed by direction-dependent boundary conditions. Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, 629, 917-927. doi:10.1016/j.jcis.2022.09.099.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000B-5024-2
Hypothesis: Although the dynamics of colloids in the vicinity of a solid interface has been widely characterized in the past, experimental studies of Brownian diffusion close to an air–water interface are rare and limited to particle-interface gap distances larger than the particle size. At the still unexplored lower distances, the dynamics is expected to be extremely sensitive to boundary conditions at the air–water interface. There, ad hoc experiments would provide a quantitative validation of predictions.

Experiments: Using a specially designed dual wave interferometric setup, the 3D dynamics of 9 μm diameter particles at a few hundreds of nanometers from an air–water interface is here measured in thermal equilibrium.

Findings: Intriguingly, while the measured dynamics parallel to the interface approaches expected predictions for slip boundary conditions, the Brownian motion normal to the interface is very close to the predictions for no-slip boundary conditions. These puzzling results are rationalized considering current models of incompressible interfacial flow and deepened developing an ad hoc model which considers the contribution of tiny concentrations of surface active particles at the interface. We argue that such condition governs the particle dynamics in a large spectrum of systems ranging from biofilm formation to flotation process.