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This review presents thoughts on some of the fundamental features of conceptual models applied in the design of fine particles in the frames of colloid and soft chemistry. A special emphasis is placed on the limitations of these models, an acknowledgment of which is vital in improving their intricacy and effectiveness in predicting the outcomes of the corresponding experimental settings. Thermodynamics of self-assembly phenomena illustrated on the examples of protein assembly and micellization is analyzed in relation to the previously elaborated thesis that each self-assembly in reality presents a co-assembly, since it implies a mutual reorganization of the assembling system and its immediate environment. Parameters used in the design of fine particles by precipitation are discussed while referring to solubility product, various measures of supersaturation levels, induction time, nucleation and crystal growth rates, interfacial energies, and the Ostwald–Lussac law of phases. Again, the main drawbacks and inadequacies of using the aforementioned parameters in tailoring the materials properties in a soft and colloidal chemical setting were particularly emphasized. The basic and practical limitations of zeta-potential analyses, routinely used to stabilize colloidal dispersions and initiate specific interactions between soft chemical entities, were also outlined. The final section of the paper reiterates the unavoidable presence of practical qualitative models in the design and control of nanoparticulate colloids, which is supported by the overwhelming complexity of quantitative relationships that govern the processes of their formation and assembly.


This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Review Journal of Chemistry, volume 3, issue 4, in 2013 following peer review. The final publication is available at Springer via DOI: 10.1134/S2079978013040031.





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