Size-Dependent Surface Charging of Nanoparticles
Journal article, 2008
Experimental interest in the possible curvature dependence of particle charging in electrolyte solutions is subjected to theoretical analysis. The corrected Debye-Hückel theory of surface complexation (CDH-SC) and Monte Carlo (MC) simulation are applied to investigate the dependence of surface charging of metal oxide nanoparticles on their size. Surface charge density versus pH curves for spherical metal oxide nanoparticles in the size range of 1-100 nm are calculated at various concentrations of a background electrolyte. The surface charge density of a nanoparticle is found to be highly size-dependent. As the particle diameter drops to below 10 nm there is considerable increase in the surface charge density as compared with the limiting values seen for particles larger than 20 nm. This increase in the surface charge density is due to the enhanced screening efficiency of the electrolyte solution around small nanoparticles, which is most prominent for particles of diameters less than 5 nm. For example, the surface charge densities calculated for 2 nm particles at 0.1 M concentration are very close to the values obtained for 100 nm particles at 1 M concentration. These predictions of the dependence of surface charge density on particle size by the CDH-SC theory are in very good agreement with the corresponding results obtained by the MC simulations. A shift in the pH value of the point of zero charge toward higher pH values is also seen with a decreasing particle size.