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Colloids - Definition, Types and Formation of Colloids

Particles are of a colloidal size if their size falls in the range of 1 to 1000nm.
A colloid is system whereby colloidal particles are suspended in a continuous medium. They are stable and do not settle. The action of the
medium (such as water) is sufficient to keep the particles in suspension and they do not settle out under as a result of gravity.
A colloid is a type of suspension; however, it differs from a solution. In a colloid the particles are insoluble. Solutions contained dissolved
species that are typically of molecular size and smaller than colloids. Colloids also tend to scatter light, whereas it is quite rare for a solution to
scatter light.
Colloids are classified by the dispersed materials and the continuous phase.
Colloids can be formed by the reduction in size of larger particles or the condensation of molecules into colloidal particles
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Colloid
Colloids are mixtures whose particles are larger than the size of a molecule but smaller than particles that can be seen with the naked eye.
Colloids are one of three major types of mixtures, the other two being solutions and suspensions. The three kinds of mixtures are distinguished
by the size of the particles that make them up. The particles in a solution are about the size of molecules, approximately 1 nanometer (1
billionth of a meter) in diameter. Those that make up suspensions are larger than 1,000 nanometers. Finally, colloidal particles range in size
between 1 and 1,000 nanometers. Colloids are also called colloidal dispersions because the particles of which they are made are dispersed, or
spread out, through the mixture.
Types of colloids
Colloids are common in everyday life. Some examples include whipped cream, mayonnaise, milk, butter, gelatin, jelly, muddy water, plaster,
colored glass, and paper.
Every colloid consists of two parts: colloidal particles and the dispersing medium. The dispersing medium is the substance in which the colloidal
particles are distributed. In muddy water, for example, the colloidal particles are tiny grains of sand, silt, and clay. The dispersing medium is the
water in which these particles are suspended.
Colloids can be made from almost any combination of gas, liquid, and solid. The particles of which the colloid is made are called the dispersed
material. Any colloid consisting of a solid dispersed in a gas is called a smoke. A liquid dispersed in a gas is referred to as a fog.
Types of Colloids
Dispersed Material Dispersed in Gas Dispersed in Liquid Dispersed in Solid
Gas (bubbles) Not possible Foams: soda pop; whipped cream; beaten egg whites Solid foams: plaster; pumice
Liquid (droplets) Fogs: mist; clouds; hair sprays Emulsions: milk; blood; mayonnaise butter; cheese
Solid (grains) Smokes: dust; industrial smoke Sols and gels: gelatin; muddy water; starch solution Solid sol: pearl; colored
glass; porcelain; paper
Properties of colloids
Each type of mixture has special properties by which it can be identified. For example, a suspension always settles out after a certain period of
time. That is, the particles that make up the suspension separate from the medium in which they are suspended and fall to the bottom of a
container. In contrast, colloidal particles typically do not settle out. Like the particles in a solution, they remain in suspension within the medium
that contains them.
Colloids also exhibit Brownian movement. Brownian movement is the random zigzag motion of particles that can be seen under a microscope.
The motion is caused by the collision of molecules with colloid particles in the dispersing medium. In addition, colloids display the Tyndall effect.
When a strong light is shone through a colloidal dispersion, the light beam becomes visible, like a column of light. A common example of this
effect can be seen when a spotlight is turned on during a foggy night. You can see the spotlight beam because of the fuzzy trace it makes in the
fog (a colloid).
(Reproduced by permission of Photo Researchers, Inc.)
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Types of Colloidal Systems
A colloidal system with finely divided particles with diameter lying between 1nm and 200nm can exist in two phases. Each one of the phase is
scattered or dispersed in the other. The phase which is scattered is called the dispersed phase, the internal phase or the discontinuous phase.
The phase in which the dispersion is taking place is called the dispersion or medium or the external or the continuous phase. The dispersion
phase is the major phase of the system as it constitutes the major fraction of the system.

Each of the two phases may be solid, liquid or gas resulting in several different types of colloidal systems depending on the state of the
dispersed and dispersion phases.
The colloidal systems with solid as dispersed phase and liquid as dispersion medium are known as sols. In case the dispersion medium of
colloidal system is gas, the system is known as aerosol. When the liquid medium is water the system is known as aquasol or hydrosol. In case
of alcohol, benzene or any other organic liquid, the stem is termed as alcosol, benzosol or orgaosol, respectively.
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Colloids
A colloid is one of the three main types of mixtures, with the other two being a solution or suspension. A colloid is a solution that has particles
ranging between 1 and 1000 nanometers in diameter, yet are still able to remain evenly distributed throughout the solution. A colloid is also
known as a colloidal dispersion because the substances remain dispersed and don't settle to the bottom. In a colloid one substance is evenly
dispersed in another. The substance being dispersed is referred to as being in the dispersed phase, while the substance in which it is dispersed
is in the continuous phase.
Types of Colloids
A common method of classifying colloids is based on the phase of the dispersed substance and what phase it is dispersed in. They types of
colloids includes sol, emulsion, foam, and aerosol.
Sol is a colloidal suspension with solid particles in a liquid.
Emulsion is between two liquids.
Foam is formed when many gas particles are trapped in a liquid or solid.
Aerosol contains small particles of liquid or solid dispersed in a gas.
When the dispersion medium is water, the collodial system is referred to as a hydrocolloid. The particles in the dispersed phase can take place
in different phases depending on how much water is available. For example, Jello powder mixed in with water creates a hydrocolloid. A
common use for hydrocolloids is in the creation of medical dressings.
Classifying Colloids

An easy way of determining whether a mixture is colloidal or not is through use of the Tyndall Effect. When light is shined t hrough a true
solution, the light passes cleanly through the solution, however when light is passed through a colloidal solution, the subst ance in the dispersed
phases scatters the light in all directions, making it readily seen. An example of this is shining a flashl ight into fog. The beam of light can be
easily seen because the fog is a colloid.
Light being shined through water and milk. The light is not reflected when passing through the water because it is not a coll oid. It is however
reflected in all directions when it passes through the milk, which is colloidal.
Another method of determining whether a mixture is a colloid is by passing it through a semipermeable membrane. The dispersed particles in a
colloid would be unable to pass through the membrane. Dialysis takes advantage of the fact that colloids cannot diffuse through semipermeable
membranes to filter them out of a medium.
Contributors
Jimmy Law (UCD), Abheetinder Brar (UCD)
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