Molecular macrocluster formation on silica surfaces in phenol-cyclohexane mixtures

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The adsorption of phenol, an aromatic compound with a hydrogen-bonding group, onto a silica surface in cyclohexane was investigated by colloidal probe atomic force microscopy (AFM), attenuated total reflection Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (ATR-FTIR), and adsorption isotherm measurements. ATR-FTIR measurements on the silica surface indicated the formation of surface macroclusters of phenol through hydrogen bonding. The ATR-FTIR spectra were also measured on the H-terminated silicon surface to observe the effect of the silanol groups on the phenol adsorption. The comparison of the ATR-FTIR spectra for both the silicon oxide and H-terminated silicon surfaces proved that the silanol groups are necessary for the formation of phenol clusters on the surface. The surface force measurement using colloidal probe AFM showed a long-range attraction between the two silica surfaces in phenol-cyclohexane mixtures. This long-range attraction resulted from the contact of the adsorbed phenol layers for the phenol concentrations below 0.6 mol %, at which no significant phenol clusters formed in the bulk solution. The attraction started to decrease at 0.6 mol % phenol due to the exchange of the phenol molecules between the clusters in the bulk phase and on the surface. The surface density of phenol in the adsorbed layer was calculated on the basis of the long-range attraction and found to be much smaller than the liquid phenol density. The plausible structure of the adsorbed phenol layer was drawn by referring to the crystal structure of the bulk phenol and orientation of the phenol molecules on the surface, estimated by the dichroic analysis of ATR-FTIR spectroscopy. The investigation of the phenol adsorption on the silica surface in a nonpolar solvent using this novel approach demonstrated the effect of the aromatic ring on the surface packing density.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6070-6075
Number of pages6
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2007 May 22


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