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Vamsi Krishna

Colloidal system are the ones in which one of three states (solid, liquid and gas)
is finely dispersed in another.

Colloids were named first in the early 19th century by the Father of Physical
Chemistry, Thomas Graham (1805-1869). In 1920's and 1930's, the importance of
colloids to industrial processes and biochemistry changed everything making it a
hot field.

A colloidal system consists of an internal phase (dispersion phase), which is the

material of colloidal dimensions, and an external phase (dispersion medium)
.Similar to the terms solute and solvent used for simple solutions.

As the particles of a colloid system become smaller and smaller, we go over

imperceptibly from a two-phase colloid to a single-phase solution, and there is no
definite boundary i.e. true solution.
Table 1: Characteristics of Suspension, Colloid and Solution
Properties Suspension Colloid Solution
1. Particle size >100nm 1-100nm <1nm
2. Separation
1)ordinary filtration possible not possible not possible
2) ultra filtration possible possible not possible

3. Settling Settles under Settles on Does not

gravity Centrifugation settle
4. Appearance opaque Generally clear clear
5. Diffusion Not possible Diffuses slowly Diffuses rapidly
6. Brownian motion shows shows Not observable
7. Tyndall effect shows shows Not observable
Classification of colloids:

Colloids can be classified mainly by 3 ways;

Classification Based on the State of the Dispersed Phase and Dispersion Medium

Classification of Colloids Based on Type of Particles of the Dispersed Phase

Classification Based on the Nature of Interaction Between Dispersed Phase and

Dispersion Medium
Classification Based on the State of the Dispersed Phase and Dispersion Medium

Table 2: Types of colloids

Dispersion Dispersed Type of colloid Example

Medium phase
Gas Liquid Aerosol Fog, clouds
Gas Solid Aerosol Smoke
Liquid Gas Foam Whipped cream,
soda water
Liquid Liquid Emulsion Milk, hair cream
Liquid Solid Sol Paints, cell fluids
Solid Gas Foam Pumice, plastic foams
Solid Liquid Gel Jelly, cheese
Solid Solid Solid Sol Ruby glass
Classification of Colloids Based on Type of Particles of the Dispersed Phase

a) Multimolecular colloids usually have lyophobic character.

Ex: gold and sulphur sols

b) Macromolecular colloids resemble true solutions

Ex: proteins, cellulose, starch and polymers such as polyethylene, nylon and

c) Associated colloids type of micelle it forms depends on the nature of solvent

(hydrophilic or hydrophobic)
Kraft Temperature (Tk )
Critical micelle concentration (CMC)
Ex: soaps and synthetic detergents

Classification Based on the Nature of Interaction Between Dispersed Phase and Dispersion Medium

Table 3: Distingustion between lyophilic and lyophobic colloids

Property Lyophilic sols (suspensoid) Lyophobic sols (Emulsoid)
Surface tension Lower than that of the medium Same as that of the medium
Viscosity Much higher than that of the Same as that of the medium
Reversibility Reversible Irreversible
Stability More stable Less stable
Visibility Particles cant be detected Particles can be detected under
even under ultra ultra microscope.
Migration Particles may migrate in either Particles migrate either towards
direction or do not migrate cathode or anode in an electric
in an electric field because field because they carry
do not carry any charge. charge.

Action of electrolyte Addition of smaller quantity of Coagulation takes place

electrolyte has little effect
Hydration Extensive hydration takes No hydration
Examples Gum, gelatin, starch, proteins, Metals like Ag and Au, hydroxides
rubber etc. like Al(OH3), Fe(OH)3 metal
sulphides like AS2S3 etc.
Physical methods of preparing colloid:

By excessive cooling: used to prepare a colloidal solution of ice.

By exchange of solvent:

Ex: S (alc) + H2O S (sol)

By change of physical state: Sols of substances like mercury and sulphur are prepared
b) Dispersion method

Mechanical disintegration: Colloidal solutions of black ink, paints, varnishes, dyes etc.
and food products like concentrated milk, food additives etc.

Figure1: Pictorial view of colloidal mill

The process of dispersing a precipitate in to a colloidal solution by adding small quantity
of electrolyte is called peptization.

Ex: Fe(OH)3 + FeCl3 [ Fe(OH)3Fe3+] (sol) + 3Cl

Bredigs arc method:

used to prepare sols of platinum, silver, copper or gold. Traces of KOH are required to
stabilize the colloidal solution.

Figure 2: Bredigs arc method

Generally used methods to prepare other colloidal systems are;

Aerosol is formed by passing gas jet to a liquid spray.

Emulsions are usually prepared by vigorously shaking the two constituents together,
often with the addition of an emulsifying agent . The phase in which emulsifier is more
soluble forms the outer layer. lyophobic colloids .

Gels are often formed by cooling lyophilic sols that contain large linear molecules and
have a much greater viscosity than the solvent.
Elastic and Rigid gels.

Foams are formed when gas and liquid are mixed together in a container and shaken
along with a foaming agent.
Purification of colloidal solutions:

Colloidal solutions prepared by the above methods contain some soluble impurities and
excess of electrolytes; these have to be removed to obtain pure sols.

Generally a) Dialysis, b) ultra filtration and c) ultra centrifugation are the techniques used

Ultra filtration: colloidal sols are filtered through ultra-filtrers. pore size of filter paper is
decreased such that it will restrict the passage of colloidal particles.

Ultra-centrifugation: Centrifugation is carried out at very high speeds such that the
colloidal particles settle down at the bottom of the tube and the impurities remain in the
solution .

It is important to note that above methods to purify colloidal solution do not produce
100% solution.
Figure 3: Electro-dialysis

used for purification of blood in case of kidney failure.

Properties of colloids:
a) Optical properties

Figure 4: Size dependent change of colour in Au sol

Figure 6: Schematic drawing of ultra microscope

Opalescence in colloids is due to scattering of light by particles. This effect was studied
by Tyndall and is generally known as tyndall effect. Tyndall observed that scattered beam
to be polarized and intensity of the same to be dependent on position of observer, nature
of system and wavelength of light used.
b) Colligative Properties

The magnitudes of these properties for colloidal solutions are much smaller than those
obtained for true solutions. They exhibit measurable osmotic pressures. This property is
used for the determination of the average molecular masses of the colloids.

c) Kinetic properties

liquid undergoes continuous chaotic and random motions. This motion of the particles
is called Brownian motion. This Brownian motion is found to decrease by increase in
particle size or by increase in viscosity of medium.

r = (3b/ 4 nd)
where, b = number of grams of substance per dm3
n = number of particles observed in view
= volume dm3
d = density of dry substance
Electrical properties

yophobic sols carry charge, because of which they get repelled on approaching another
article avoiding their coagulation.

Due to presence of electrolytes

x: positive charge on ferric hydroxide sol prepared by hydrolysis of ferric chloride is due
o adsorption of Fe3+ ions on surface.

dissociation of molecular electrolytes adsorbed on the surface of particles.

x: H2S molecules get adsorbed on sulphides during precipitation. H2S undergoes
ssociation and the hydrogen ions are lost. The particles become negatively charged due
(S2-) which are left on the colloidal particles.

by dissociation of surface molecules

x: soaps, proteins
Figure 7: Electrical double layer

The influence of net charge decreases with distance and so the number of oppositely
charged ions, equaling the number of ions of both charges prevailing electro neutrality.
Properties of colloids:

Purification of water by alum (coagulation)

In rubber platting

In tanning

Artificial rains

Formation of deltas (coagulation)

Blood clot formation

Colloidal medicine: Argyrol and protargyrol are colloidal solution of silver and are used
as eye lotions .Colloidal sulphur is used as disinfectant and colloidal gold, calcium and
iron are used as tonics. A wide variety of medicines are emulsions.

Coating of Photographic plates

Sewage disposal

Smoke precipitation (Coagulation)

Figure 8: Schematic diagram of Cottrell smoke precipitator

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