Probing the surface charge on the basal planes of Kaolinite particles with high resolution Atomic Force Microscopy

Naveen Kumar, M.P. Andersson, Dirk van den Ende, Frieder G. Mugele, Igor Sîretanu

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High-resolution atomic force microscopy is used to map the surface charge on the basal planes of kaolinite nanoparticles in an ambient solution of variable pH and NaCl or CaCl2 concentration. Using DLVO theory with charge regulation, we determine from the measured force–distance curves the surface charge distribution on both the silica-like and the gibbsite-like basal plane of the kaolinite particles. We observe that both basal planes do carry charge that varies with pH and salt concentration. The silica facet was found to be negatively charged at pH 4 and above, whereas the gibbsite facet is positively charged at pH below 7 and negatively charged at pH above 7. Investigations in CaCl2 at pH 6 show that the surface charge on the gibbsite facet increases for concentration up to 10 mM CaCl2 and starts to decrease upon further increasing the salt concentration to 50 mM. The increase of surface charge at low concentration is explained by Ca2+ ion adsorption, while Cl– adsorption at higher CaCl2 concentrations partially neutralizes the surface charge. Atomic resolution imaging and density functional theory calculations corroborate these observations. They show that hydrated Ca2+ ions can spontaneously adsorb on the gibbsite facet of the kaolinite particle and form ordered surface structures, while at higher concentrations Cl– ions will co-adsorb, thereby changing the observed ordered surface structure
Original languageEnglish
Article number33
Pages (from-to)14226-14237
Issue number50
Publication statusPublished - 19 Dec 2017


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