Residence time, loading force, pH, and ionic strength affect adhesion forces between colloids and biopolymer-coated surfaces

Li Chong Xu, Virginia Vadillo-Rodriguez, Bruce E. Logan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


Exopolymers are thought to influence bacterial adhesion to surfaces, but the time-dependent nature of molecular-scale interactions of biopolymers with a surface are poorly understood. In this study, the adhesion forces between two proteins and a polysaccharide [Bovine serum albumin (BSA), lysozyme, or dextran] and colloids (uncoated or BSA-coated carboxylated latex microspheres) were analyzed using colloid probe atomic force microscopy (AFM). Increasing the residence time of an uncoated or BSA-coated microsphere on a surface consistently increased the adhesion force measured during retraction of the colloid from the surface, demonstrating the important contribution of polymer rearrangement to increased adhesion force. Increasing the force applied on the colloid (loading force) also increased the adhesion force. For example, at a lower loading force of ∼0.6 nN there was little adhesion (less than - 0.47 nN) measured between a microsphere and the BSA surface for an exposure time up to 10 s. Increasing the loading force to 5.4 nN increased the adhesion force to -4.1 nN for an uncoated microsphere to a BSA surface and to as much as -7.5 nN for a BSA-coated microsphere to a BSA-coated glass surface for a residence time of 10 s. Adhesion forces between colloids and biopolymer surfaces decreased inversely with pH over a pH range of 4.5-10.6, suggesting that hydrogen bonding and a reduction of electrostatic repulsion were dominant mechanisms of adhesion in lower pH solutions. Larger adhesion forces were observed at low (1 mM) versus high ionic strength (100 mM), consistent with previous AFM findings. These results show the importance of polymers for colloid adhesion to surfaces by demonstrating that adhesion forces increase with applied force and detention time, and that changes in the adhesion forces reflect changes in solution chemistry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7491-7500
Number of pages10
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 2 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Spectroscopy
  • Electrochemistry


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