Measuring surface charge: Why experimental characterization and molecular modeling should be coupled

Remco Hartkamp, Anne-Laure Biance, Li Fu, Jean François Dufrêche, Oriane Bonhomme, Laurent Joly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)
11 Downloads (Pure)


Surface charge controls many static and dynamic properties of soft matter and micro/nanofluidic systems, but its unambiguous measurement forms a challenge. Standard characterization methods typically probe an effective surface charge, which provides limited insight into the distribution and dynamics of charge across the interface, and which cannot predict consistently all surface-charge-governed properties. New experimental approaches provide local information on both structure and transport, but models are typically required to interpret raw data. Conversely, molecular dynamics simulations have helped showing the limits of standard models and developing more accurate ones, but their reliability is limited by the empirical interaction potentials they are usually based on. This review highlights recent developments and limitations in both experimental and computational research focusing on the liquid-solid interface. Based on recent studies, we make the case that coupling of experiments and simulations is pivotal to mitigate methodological shortcomings and address open problems pertaining to charged interfaces.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-114
JournalCurrent Opinion in Colloid & Interface Science
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Surface charge
  • Electrical double layer
  • Zeta potential
  • Electrokinetics
  • Scanning probe microscopy
  • Spectroscopy
  • Molecular dynamic
  • Ab initio methods

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