The Review of scientific instruments

Humidity scanning quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation monitoring setup for determination of sorption-desorption isotherms and rheological changes.

PMID 26026556


A new method to determine water sorption-desorption isotherms with high resolution in the complete range of water activities (relative humidities) is presented. The method is based on quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation monitoring (QCM-D). The QCM-D is equipped with a humidity module in which the sample film is kept in air with controlled humidity. The experimental setup allows for continuous scanning of the relative humidity from either dry to humid conditions or vice versa. The amount of water sorbed or desorbed from the sample is determined from the resonance frequencies of the coated quartz sensor, via analysis of the overtone dependence. In addition, the method allows for characterization of hydration induced changes of the rheological properties from the dissipation data, which is closely connected to the viscoelasticity of the film. The accuracy of the humidity scanning setup is confirmed in control experiments. Sorption-desorption isotherms of pig gastric mucin and lysozyme, obtained by the new method, show good agreement with previous results. Finally, we show that the deposition technique used to coat the quartz sensor influences the QCM-D data and how this issue can be used to obtain further information on the effect of hydration. In particular, we demonstrate that spin-coating represents an attractive alternative to obtain sorption-desorption isotherms, while drop-coating provides additional information on changes of the rheological properties during hydration.

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