Beyond the Characterization of Surface Charge - Zeta Potential Analysis in Polymer Research

Beyond the Characterization of Surface Charge - Zeta Potential Analysis in Polymer Research

Surface and interfacial properties of polymeric materials determine their behavior in various fields of applications. Tuning these properties, such as roughness, wettability, and functionality, has become increasingly important in the past decades to meet emerging demands in the areas of energy, environment, or health. The growth in the need for a detailed characterization of these properties has accompanied the rapid development of traditional polymers with novel surface properties.

We focus on the characterization of surface functionality and of changes in surface wettability by means of zeta potential analysis. The zeta potential represents the charge and the material-water interface. This parameter is extremely sensitive to changes on the outermost material surface and enables the detection of surface modification on the molecular scale. The isoelectric point determined from the pH dependence of the zeta potential is an intrinsic characteristic of the surface chemistry.

The application of the zeta potential analysis for various polymeric materials has been the link between the Polymer Competence Center Leoben (PCCL) and Anton Paar for more than 15 years. We review the history of this partnership, which has highlighted specific applications such as the photochemical treatment of polyolefin films or the correlation between the isoelectric point and the antimicrobial behavior of biocidal polymers. We also look at the developments of the state-of-the-art instrument for surface zeta potential analysis and highlight applications beyond polymers.

With the scientific focus of this webinar, we introduce two recent case studies of polymer applications: “Controlling fiber-matrix adhesion” and “Tailoring the chemical functionalization of a transparent polyethylene foil for its application in an OLED-based DNA biosensor”, with a significant involvement of zeta potential analysis in the characterization part of these research activities at PCCL.

Dr. Thomas Luxbacher, Dr. Inge Mühlbacher (English)
Dr. Thomas Luxbacher, Dr. Inge Mühlbacher (English)
Thomas Luxbacher

Thomas Luxbacher received his PhD degree in Technical Chemistry at Graz University of Technology and looks back at almost 20 years of experience as a product manager in different areas. He is currently the principal scientist for surface charge and zeta potential at Anton Paar GmbH.

Inge Mühlbacher

Inge Mühlbacher is project manager in the division Chemistry of Functional Polymers at Polymer Competence Center Leoben. She received her PhD degree in Physical Chemistry from Karl Franzens University of Graz in 2002. Her expertise lies since more than 20 years in polymer surface characterization with the focus on zeta potential and contact angle measurements, including morphological and chemical analyses, mechanical testing and rheology as well.