The adsorption of two modified dextrins (phenyl succinate dextrin - PS Dextrin; styrene oxide dextrin - SO Dextrin) on four different mineral surfaces has been studied using X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), in situ atomic force microscopy (AFM) imaging, and captive bubble contact angle measurements. The four surfaces include highly orientated pyrolytic graphite (HOPG), freshly cleaved synthetic sphalerite (ZnS), and two surfaces produced through surface reactions of sphalerite: one oxidized in alkaline solution (pH 9, 1h immersion); and one subjected to metal ion exchange between copper and zinc (i.e. copper activation: exposed to 1×10-3M CuSO4 solution for 1h). XPS measurements indicate that the different sphalerite surfaces contain varying amounts of sulfur, zinc, oxygen, and copper, producing substrates for polymer adsorption with a range of possible binding sites. AFM imaging has shown that the two polymers adsorb to a similar extent on HOPG, and that the two polymers display very different propensities for adsorption on the three sphalerite surface types, with freshly cleaved sphalerite encouraging the least adsorption, and copper activated and oxidized sphalerite encouraging significantly more adsorption. Contact angle measurements of the four surfaces indicate that synthetic sphalerite has a low contact angle upon fracture, and that oxidation on the timescale of one hour substantially alters the hydrophobicity. HOPG and copper-activated sphalerite were the most hydrophobic, as expected due to the carbon and di/poly-sulfide rich surfaces of the two samples, respectively. SO Dextrin is seen to have a significant impact on the wettability of HOPG and the surface reacted sphalerite samples, highlighting the difficulty in selectively separating sphalerite from carbonaceous unwanted minerals in flotation. PS Dextrin has the least effect on the hydrophobicity of the reacted sphalerite surfaces, whilst still significantly increasing the wettability of graphite, and thus has more potential for use as a polymer depressant in this separation.
- Polymer adsorption