Polymer-mediated interactions and their effect on the coagulation–fragmentation of nano-colloids: a self-consistent field theory approach
This feature paper reviews our recent efforts to theoretically model the effect of polymer mediated interactions on the coagulation–fragmentation of nano-colloids in different settings encountered in practical systems. The polymer-mediated interactions among nanoparticles play a key role in many biological and technological processes such as red blood cell aggregation, protein crystallization, self-healing of polymer composites, filler reinforcement of rubbers used in tire technology, etc. By developing and making use of the novel potential theory, we investigate several important cases of these interactions acting between nanoparticles in diverse nano-polymer composites. As a demonstration of its practical applicability, we use the developed theory to investigate the effect of polymer mediated interactions on the coagulation–fragmentation of fillers and their kinetic stability in the presence of non-adsorbing and adsorbing polymers. In particular, we use our findings to develop a pragmatic way of evaluating the kinetic stability of nano-filler agglomerates critical for understanding the filler reinforcement of rubbers. Finally, we perform thorough comparison of the present theoretical findings with the available experimental data and simulations.