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Electric charge of nanopatterned silica surfaces
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The most recent technologies employ nanoscale surface patterning or roughening in order to engineer desired properties on a surface. Electrokinetic properties at the interface of such surfaces and ionic liquids show different behavior to the well-known theoretical descriptions. Basically, the ionic distribution on the surface differs due to electrical double layer overlap effects in the pits and curvature effects at the tips of surface structures. Generally, the charge density of a surface is assumed to be a material property and surface roughness effects are overlooked in most of the literature. In contrast, we properly calculated the local surface charges based on surface chemistry at the corresponding local ionic concentration (charge regulation) for various surface roughness and solution conditions. The results showed that the surface charge density of silica decreased at the pits but increased at the tips of surface patterns. Even for the simplest case of self-repeating surface structures, the average of local surface charges becomes lower than the theoretical predictions. Based on numerical calculations, a phenomenological model was developed as an extension to the existing flat surface theory, which can successfully predict the average surface charge on a nano patterned surface as a function of the surface pattern size, ionic concentration and pH.