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Hydrophobicity of Templated Silica Xerogels for Molecular Sieving Applications

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Silica xerogels were prepared by a sol–gel process catalyzed by acid with tetraethylorthosilicate, and using an organic covalent ligand template (methyltriethoxysilane) or a noncovalent template C6 surfactant (triethylhexylammonium bromide). The influence of hydrotreatment on the structure of templated xerogels is examined in terms of surface area, micropore volume, average pore size, and pore size distribution, and compared against a blank xerogel (nontemplated). The role of surface functional groups was evaluated using 29Si nuclear magnetic resonance. The structural integrity of the xerogel was maintained to a large extent in samples that had a high contribution of Q4 species (siloxane groups). Xerogel matrix densification occurred when there was a large concentration of Q3 and Q2 species (silanol groups), which also were responsible for increased hydrophilicity. The templated xerogels resulted in up to a 25% concentration of methyl functional groups (T3 and T2 species), leading to hydrophobic xerogels. The best results in terms of structural integrity and hydrophobicity were obtained with templated xerogels prepared with the C6 surfactant. The results in this study suggest that surfactant-enhanced condensation reactions lead to structures with a high contribution of Q4 groups, which are not susceptible to water attack, but are strong enough to oppose matrix densification during rehydration.


Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Nanomaterials Centre, Department of Chemical Engineering, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, 4072, Australia

Publication date: 2001-09-01

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  • Journal for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (JNN) is an international and multidisciplinary peer-reviewed journal with a wide-ranging coverage, consolidating research activities in all areas of nanoscience and nanotechnology into a single and unique reference source. JNN is the first cross-disciplinary journal to publish original full research articles, rapid communications of important new scientific and technological findings, timely state-of-the-art reviews with author's photo and short biography, and current research news encompassing the fundamental and applied research in all disciplines of science, engineering and medicine.
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