The application of atomic force microscopy in mineral flotation


    • Advances in the application of AFM in mineral flotation are reviewed.
    • Mineral surface and mineral-water interface imaging are discussed.
    • Reagent adsorption, inter-particle force, and bubble-particle interaction are reviewed.
    • Complementary chemical characterization and distance measurement are necessary.


During the past years, atomic force microscopy (AFM) has matured to an indispensable tool to characterize nanomaterials in colloid and interface science. For imaging, a sharp probe mounted near to the end of a cantilever scans over the sample surface providing a high resolution three-dimensional topographic image. In addition, the AFM tip can be used as a force sensor to detect local properties like adhesion, stiffness, charge etc. After the invention of the colloidal probe technique it has also become a major method to measure surface forces. In this review, we highlight the advances in the application of AFM in the field of mineral flotation, such as mineral morphology imaging, water at mineral surface, reagent adsorptioninter-particle force, and bubble-particle interaction. In the coming years, the complementary characterization of chemical composition such as using infrared spectroscopy and Raman spectroscopy for AFM topography imaging and the synchronous measurement of the force and distance involving deformable bubble as a force sensor will further assist the fundamental understanding of flotation mechanism.

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