Determination of Solvation Layer Thickness by a Magnetophotonic Approach

Derjaguin–Landau–Verwey–Overbeek (DLVO) theory fails in explaining the superior stability of colloid particles in aqueous suspensions under conditions of high ionic strengths where electrostatic forces are effectively screened. Accumulating evidence shows that the formation of a thin rigid layer of solvent molecules in the vicinity of a colloidal particle surface provides an additional repulsive interaction when the interparticle distance is reduced to several nanometers. The effective determination of the thickness of the solvation layer however remains a challenge. Here, we demonstrate a simple yet powerful magnetophotonic technique that can be used to study the thickness of the solvation layers formed on the colloidal silica surface in various polar solvents. A relationship between the hydrogen-bonding ability of the solvents and the thickness of solvation layer on colloidal silica surfaces has been identified; this observation is found to be consistent with the previously proposed hydrogen-bonding origin of the solvation force.