Infoscience

Journal article

Optical label-free and model-free probe of the surface potential of nanoscale and microscopic objects in aqueous solution

The electrostatic environment of aqueous systems is an essential ingredient for the function of any living system. To understand the electrostatic properties and their molecular foundation in soft, living, and three-dimensional systems, we developed a table-top model-free method to determine the surface potential of nano- and microscopic objects in aqueous solutions. Angle-resolved nonresonant second harmonic (SH) scattering measurements contain enough information to determine the surface potential unambiguously, without making assumptions on the structure of the interfacial region. The scattered SH light that is emitted from both the particle interface and the diffuse double layer can be detected in two different polarization states that have independent scattering patterns. The angular shape and intensity are determined by the surface potential and the second-order surface susceptibility. Calibrating the response with the SH intensity of bulk water, a single, unique surface potential value can be extracted. We demonstrate the method with 80 nm bare oil droplets in water and ∼50nm dioleoylphosphatidylcholine (DOPC) and dioleoylphosphatidylserine (DOPS) liposomes at various ionic strengths.

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