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The Aqueous Chemistry of Oxides$
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Bruce C. Bunker and William H. Casey

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199384259

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199384259.001.0001

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The Colloidal Chemistry of Oxides

The Colloidal Chemistry of Oxides

8 The Colloidal Chemistry of Oxides
The Aqueous Chemistry of Oxides

Bruce C. Bunker

William H. Casey

Oxford University Press

Colloids are defined as suspensions of finely divided particles in a continuous medium that do not settle rapidly and are not readily filtered. To be more specific, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry defines a colloid as any material for which one or more of its three dimensions lies within the size range of 1 to 1000 nm. As the nucleation and growth of oxides from aqueous solutions almost always produces suspensions containing submicron particles (see Chapter 7), typical oxide suspensions fall squarely within the colloidal domain. In this book, we consider colloidal particles to represent oxides or hydroxides that are small enough to stay in aqueous suspensions for more than a few hours, yet are larger and lacking in the specific molecular structures of typical hydrolysis products (see Chapter 5). Given the density range of most oxides (from around 2−10 g/cm3), the sizes of most colloidal oxides fall within the limits of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (see Section 8.4.5). Colloidal oxide particles suspended in water represent a complex chemical environment. At the molecular level, protons, ions, small molecules, and polymeric species interact with particle surfaces to create charged surface sites and promote adsorption and desorption phenomena (see Chapter 6). These modified surfaces perturb the adjacent liquid, creating ordered solvent layers and strong concentration gradients in ions and other dissolved species. These interfacial phenomena generate a range of forces called interaction potentials. Such forces determine whether particles repel each other (leading to stable suspensions) or are attracted to one another, resulting in agglomeration and sedimentation phenomena. The length scales of those components of the oxide–water interface that influence the interaction potentials to be discussed in this chapter are introduced in Figure 8.1. At the subatomic level, the correlated polarization of electron clouds gives rise to dispersion forces described by quantum mechanics that contribute to van der Waals interactions. At the atomic level, the inherent charge on each exposed oxygen anion that terminates the oxide surface is controlled by local chemical bonds to adjacent cations (see Chapter 6).

Keywords:   Green bodies, binders, colloids, dispersants, flocculation, iron hydroxide, primary particles, sedimentation, slip casting, thixotropic behavior

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