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NMR Relaxation of Suspensions of Mixed Particles

Many formulations contain more than one type of particulate material. These particles may
compete for adsorption of polymers which enhance stability. Optimizing stability of these
mixed suspensions can be challenging. The importance of the process of dispersion and its
profound effect on the economics and quality of the subsequent product has long been
recognized; the economic impact of incorrect mixing can be considerable. Understanding
particulate suspension structure is, essential to optimize product performance.

Surface particle analysis using NMR relaxation is well-established. It is known that the
magnitude of the relaxation depends very much on the specific material under investigation.
For example, the relaxation rate of an alumina suspension is much shorter than that for a
silica suspension of the same particle size and concentration because the former element is
quadripolar.

In the example shown below, the NMR relaxation rate of two different nanoparticulate silica
suspensions was measured separately and then mixed together and rmeasured again. The
first was a typical pure SiO
2
, the second alumina-modified SiO
2
. Both materials are used
extensively in a wide variety of applications.

Both unmodified SiO
2
(black) and the Al-modified SiO
2
,(blue) show the expected linear
behavior for relaxation rate versus particle concentration. The Al-modified SiO2 suspension
has a steeper slope. The red line then shows the result of adding increasing amounts of the
unmodified SiO
2
to a fixed amount of the Al-modified SiO
2
suspension. Clearly relaxation
rates are additive. If the concentration of one of the particle suspensions is known then the
other can be measured.

Note the range of concentration measured. NMR measurements can prove very useful
since they can be made using undiluted suspensions; they are also independent of particle
size and shape. These data also emphasize another advantage of NMR relaxation
measurements in that detailed surface chemistry can be probed, for example that of
alumino-silicate clays. Here the surface chemistry can vary widely; it critically depends on
the clays prehistory and so care must be taken when comparing data on clays from
different sources.

A
p
p
l
i
c
a
t
i
o
n

N
o
t
e

1
1
6

0.0
1.0
2.0
3.0
4.0
5.0
6.0
7.0
8.0
0.000 2.000 4.000 6.000 8.000 10.000 12.000
R
2
\
s
-1
Weight %
SiO2 Only
Al-SiO2
2% Al-SiO2 with increasing SiO2