The net charge of a colloidal particle was controlled using light and a new photocleavable self-assembled monolayer (SAM). The SAM contained a terminal ammonium group and a centrally located carboxylic acid group that was masked with an ortho-nitrobenzyl functionality. Once exposed to UV light, the 2-nitrobenzyl group was cleaved, therefore transforming the colloidal particle from a net positive (silica-SAM-NH3+) to a net negative (silica-SAM-COO-) charge. By varying the UV exposure time, their zeta potential could be tailored between +26 and -60 mV at neutral pH. To demonstrate a photoinduced gel-to-fluid phase transition, a binary colloidal suspension composed of silica-SAM-NH3+ and negatively charged, rhodamine-labeled silica particles was mixed to form a gel. Exposure to UV light rendered all of the particles negative and therefore converted the system into a colloidal fluid that settles to form a dense sediment.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry