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Issue 8, 2006
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Like-charge attraction in confinement: myth or truth?

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It is general wisdom that like-charged colloidal particles repel each other when suspended in liquids. This is in perfect agreement with mean field theories being developed more than 60 years ago. Accordingly, it was a big surprise when several groups independently reported long-ranged attractive components in the pair potential U(r) of equally charged colloids. This so-called like-charge attraction (LCA) was only observed in thin sample cells while the pair-interaction in unconfined suspensions has been experimentally confirmed to be entirely repulsive. Despite considerable experimental and theoretical efforts, LCA remains one of the most challenging mysteries in colloidal science. We experimentally reinvestigate the pair-potential U(r) of charged colloidal particles with digital video microscopy and demonstrate that optical distortions in the particle's images lead to slightly erroneous particle positions. If not properly taken into account, this artefact pretends a minimum in U(r) which was in the past misleadingly interpreted as LCA. After correcting optical distortions we obtain entirely repulsive pair interactions which show good agreement with linearized mean field theories.

Graphical abstract: Like-charge attraction in confinement: myth or truth?

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Article information

28 Mar 2006
First published
02 May 2006

Soft Matter, 2006,2, 631-635
Article type

Like-charge attraction in confinement: myth or truth?

J. Baumgartl, J. L. Arauz-Lara and C. Bechinger, Soft Matter, 2006, 2, 631
DOI: 10.1039/B603052A

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