Long-Range Hydrophilic Attraction between Water and Polyelectrolyte Surfaces in Oil

Chen Shi, Bin Yan, Lei Xie, Ling Zhang, Jingyi Wang, Atsushi Takahara, Hongbo Zeng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Citations (Scopus)


The outstanding water wettability and the capability of polyelectrolyte surfaces to spontaneously clean oil fouling are determined by their wetting mechanism in the surrounding medium. Here, we have quantified the nanomechanics between three types of polyelectrolyte surfaces (i.e. zwitterionic, cationic, and anionic) and water or oil drops using an atomic force microscope (AFM) drop probe technique, and elucidated the intrinsic wetting mechanisms of the polyelectrolyte surfaces in oil and water media. The measured forces between oil drops and polyelectrolyte surfaces in water can be described by the Derjaguin-Landau-Verwey-Overbeek (DLVO) theory. Surprisingly, strong long-range attraction was discovered between polyelectrolyte surfaces and water drops in oil, and the strongest interaction was measured for the polyzwitterion. This unexpected long-range “hydrophilic” attraction in oil could be attributed to a strong dipolar interaction because of the large dipole moment of the polyelectrolytes. Our results provide new nanomechanical insights into the development of novel polyelectrolyte-based materials and coatings for a wide range of engineering, bioengineering, and environmental applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15017-15021
Number of pages5
JournalAngewandte Chemie - International Edition
Issue number48
Publication statusPublished - Nov 21 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)


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