Experimental studies on the detachment of multi-walled carbon nanotubes by a mobile liquid interface

M. J. Hokkanen, S. Lautala, E. Flahaut, M. Ahlskog*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Retention and detachment of colloidal particles from surfaces is often considered only in terms of spontaneous chemical dispersion when the surface is already fully submerged. Nevertheless, interfacial processes, where the particles are caught on a mobile liquid contact line by capillary effects are ubiquitous. Theoretical description of such interfacial processes exist for spherical microcolloids, while for anisotropic shapes the literature is limited. Arc-discharge synthesized multiwalled carbon nanotube (MWNT) material contains besides the very anisotropic tubes also irregular amorphous carbon particles (ACP) that both are strongly hydrophobic. As a water-air-solid contact line is swept over a deposition of MWNT material on a hydrophilic substrate, it causes selective detachment of the spherical ACPs over the one dimensional MWNTs. In this work we investigate the detachment process and the balance between the surface tension force and adhesive forces. Our results show that on hydrophilic substrates the surface tension force of the liquid interface dominates over adhesion, sweeping away most of the material. However, clean MWNTs oriented perpendicular to the contact line are able to resist detachment. On the other hand, on hydrophobic surfaces adhesive forces dominate, possibly via the hydrophobic interaction. We discuss these results with conventional models of capillarity and adhesion, including the van der Waals force and the electrostatic double layer interaction. However, a fully satisfactory analysis will require e.g. computational modelling of the problem.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-115
Number of pages7
JournalColloids and Surfaces A: Physicochemical and Engineering Aspects
Publication statusPublished - 20 Nov 2017
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Carbon nanotube
  • Contact line
  • Surface tension
  • Wetting
  • Surface chemistry
  • Hydrophobic interaction


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