Low-Cost Zeta Potentiometry Using Solute Gradients

Sangwoo Shin, Jesse T. Ault, Jie Feng, Patrick B. Warren, Howard A. Stone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


The zeta potential is an electric potential in the Debye screening layer of an electrolyte, which represents a key physicochemical surface property in various fields ranging from electrochemistry to pharmaceuticals. Thus, characterizing the zeta potential is essential for many applications, but available measurement techniques are limited. Electrophoretic light scattering is typically used to measure the zeta potential of particles in suspension, whereas zeta potential measurements of a solid wall in solution rely on either streaming potential or electroosmotic mobility measurement techniques, both of which are expensive and sophisticated. Here, a simple, robust method to simultaneously measure the zeta potential of particles in suspension and solid walls is presented. The method uses solute gradients to induce particle and fluid motions via diffusiophoresis and diffusioosmosis, respectively, which are both sensitive to the zeta potential of the particle and the wall. By visualizing the particle dynamics, both zeta potentials can be determined independently. Finally, a compact microscope is used to demonstrate low-cost zeta potentiometry that allows measurement of both particle and wall zeta potentials, which suggests a cost-effective tool for pharmaceuticals as well as for educational purposes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1701516
JournalAdvanced Materials
Issue number30
StatePublished - Aug 11 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • General Materials Science


  • colloids
  • diffusioosmosis
  • diffusiophoresis
  • surface charge
  • zeta potential


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