A new technique for membrane characterisation: Direct measurement of the force of adhesion of a single particle using an atomic force microscope

W. Richard Bowen, Nidal Hilal, Robert W. Lovitt, Chris J. Wright

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An Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) has been used to quantify directly the adhesive force between a colloid probe and two polymeric ultrafiltration membranes of similar MWCO (4000 Da) but different materials (ES 404 and XP 117, PCI Membrane Systems (UK)). The colloid probe was made from a polystyrene sphere (diameter 11 μm) glued to a V shaped AFM cantilever. Measurements were made in 10-2 M NaCl solution at pH 8. It was found that the adhesive force at the ES 404 membrane was more than five times greater than that at the XP 117 membrane. As it allows direct quantification of particle/membrane interactions, this technique should be invaluable in the development of new membrane materials and in the elucidation of process behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)269-274
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Membrane Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 18 Feb 1998



  • Adhesion
  • Atomic force microscopy
  • Ultrafiltration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Filtration and Separation

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