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Environ Sci Technol. 2002 Jan 15;36(2):184-9.

Effect of molecular scale roughness of glass beads on colloidal and bacterial deposition.

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Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park 16802, USA.


Molecular-scale surface roughness and charge heterogeneity have been hypothesized as factors that can affect the deposition rates of colloids during their transport in porous media. To test their relative importance, a single batch of cleaned glass beads was divided in half and chemically treated with acid or base to alter surface roughness. Analysis of the topography of 20 glass beads with an atomic force microscope (AFM) indicated that the chromic acid-treated (rough) beads had a root-mean-square roughness of 38.1 +/- 3.9 nm, while the sodium hydroxide-treated (smooth) beads had root-mean-square surface roughness of 15.0 +/- 1.9 nm. AFM force volume imaging of glass bead surfaces did not reveal surface charge heterogeneity. Filtration experiments with inorganic colloids (latex microspheres, 1 microm diameter) consistently demonstrated that there was a greater retention of latex microspheres on rough than smooth glass beads suspended in either low (10(-5) M) or higher (10(-1) M) ionic strength (IS) solutions. Collision efficiencies for rough beads were 30-50% larger than for smooth beads. Collision efficiencies of bacteria using rough glass beads were also equal to or greater than those measured for smooth beads. In experiments with the perchlorate-reducing bacterial isolate KJ, collision efficiencies were significantly greater on rough rather than smooth beads for two different ionic strength solutions (IS = 0.05 or 1 M). In another case (IS = 0.1 M) for KJ, and in filtration experiments with E coli, collision efficiencies were not significantly different between the rough and smooth beads. We hypothesize that the consistently greater deposition rates of microspheres, but not bacteria, on rough rather than smooth beads are due in part to the presence of polymers on the surfaces of bacteria.

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