Journal article

Changes in the Silanol Protonation State Measured In Situ at the Silica-Aqueous Interface

Recent nanomedical applications have again highlighted the significance of silica surface chemistry in solution. Here, we report in situ electronic structure measurements at the silica-aqueous interface as a function of pH for nanoparticles (NPs) of 7, 12, and 22 nm using a liquid microjet in combination with synchrotron radiation. The Si K-edge X-ray absorption near-edge spectroscopy (XANES) spectra reveal a change in shape of the Si 1s -> t(2) (Si 2p-3s) absorption brought about by changes in the silanol protonation state at the interface of the NPs as a result of changes in solution pH. Our results are consistent with the number of silanol groups changing the protonation state being inversely correlated with the SiO2 NP size. The importance of in situ studies is also demonstrated by comparing the XANES spectra of aqueous 7 nm SiO2 with the same dehydrated sample in vacuum.


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