Hydrogen-bonded macrocluster formation of ethanol on silica surfaces in cyclohexane

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Adsorption of ethanol onto silica surfaces from ethanol-cyclohexane binary liquids was investigated by a combination of colloidal probe atomic force microscopy, adsorption excess isotherm measurement, and FTIR spectroscopy using the attenuated total reflection (ATR) mode. An unusually long-range attraction was found between the silica (glass) surfaces in the presence of ethanol in the concentration range of 0.1-1.4 mol % at room temperature. At 0.1 mol % ethanol, the attraction appeared at a distance of 35 ± 3 nm and turned into a repulsion below 3.5 ± 1.5 nm upon compression. Half of the attraction range agreed with the adsorption layer thickness estimated from the adsorption excess amount by assuming that the adsorption layer was composed only of ethanol. This indicated that the observed long-range attraction was caused by the contact of opposed adsorption layers of ethanol on the silica surfaces and that the sharp increase of repulsion at shorter distance was caused by the overlap of structured ethanol clusters adjacent to the surface. ATR-FTIR spectra demonstrated that ethanol adsorbed on the silica (silicon oxide) surfaces formed hydrogen-bonded clusters (polymers). Practically no ethanol clusters were formed on the hydrogen-terminated silicon surface. These results indicated that the cluster formation involved hydrogen-bonding interactions between surface silanol groups and ethanol hydroxyl groups in addition to those between ethanol hydroxyl groups. At higher temperatures (30-50 °C), the range and the strength of attraction decreased owing to the decrease in the hydrogen-bonded clusters monitored by FTIR spectroscopy, reflecting the nature of hydrogen bonding. The range and the strength of the attraction also changed when the ethanol concentration increased: The long-range attraction started to decrease at 0.6 mol % ethanol at room temperature and disappeared at 1.4 mol % while the adsorption excess amount remained almost constant as did the FTIR peak intensity of the hydrogen-bonded OH group of adsorbed ethanol. In the bulk solution, ethanol clusters appeared at 0.5 mol % ethanol; thus, this change in the attraction could be accounted for in terms of the exchange of ethanol molecules between the surface clusters and bulk clusters. The novel self-assembled structure of alcohol on the surface, found in this study may be called a "surface molecular macrocluster" because the hydrogen-bonded clusters extend to distances of ca. 20 nm longer than the typical sizes of common clusters, 2-4 nm, of alcohol (e.g., ethanol).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12889-12897
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number43
Publication statusPublished - 2002 Oct 30

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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