Superfast electrophoresis of conducting dispersed particles

Sandor Barany, Natalie A. Mishchuk, Dennis C. Prieve

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

48 Citations (Scopus)


Conducting particles can display electrophoretic velocities hundreds of times larger than those expected for nonconducting particles. For ion- exchange particles in which coions are excluded from the interior, superfast electrophoresis occurs when the externally applied electric field exceeds that required for producing the overlimit current through the particle. Then a secondary diffuse cloud of counterions is induced outside the primary diffuse cloud (the latter is associated with the electric double layer). This extra induced charge, which increase with the electric field strength, causes the much larger electrophoretic velocities observed. Using multiple-exposed videoimaging and a new inclined flowcell to separate the effects of sedimentation and electrophoresis, we measure the electrophoretic velocity of electronically conducting particles (Al/Mg alloy, graphite, or activated carbon; 250-500 μm diameter) which are then compared to earlier measurements with ionically conducting particles. For ionic strengths less than 1 mM, the electrophoretic mobility (velocity/electric field) of electronically conducting particles increases significantly with the electric field and the particle size, but is almost independent of the ionic strength. These trends are inconsistent with Smoluchowski's equation for the mobility of a dielectric particle, but instead are consistent with the theory (and earlier measurements on ion-exchange particles) for superfast electrophoresis. Although the electronically conducting particles move much faster than expected for dielectric particles, the velocity is not quite as high as that for ionically conducting particles. Smaller superfast electrophoresis for electronic conductors could be caused by the overpotentials which drive the redox reactions necessary to exchange electrons for ions at the particle surfaces; also both positive and negative secondary charge clouds are induced on opposite sides of an electronic conductor particle, which partially neutralizes the 'superfast' effect.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)240-250
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of colloid and interface science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Nov 15 1998


  • Activated carbon
  • Electrokinetic phenomena
  • Electrophoresis
  • Graphite

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Biomaterials
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Superfast electrophoresis of conducting dispersed particles'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this