Control of interfacial pH in mesoporous silica nanoparticles via surface functionalization

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2020-01-16
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Singappuli-Arachchige, Dilini
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Slowing, Igor
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Ames National Laboratory

Ames National Laboratory is a government-owned, contractor-operated national laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), operated by and located on the campus of Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa.

For more than 70 years, the Ames National Laboratory has successfully partnered with Iowa State University, and is unique among the 17 DOE laboratories in that it is physically located on the campus of a major research university. Many of the scientists and administrators at the Laboratory also hold faculty positions at the University and the Laboratory has access to both undergraduate and graduate student talent.

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Chemistry

The Department of Chemistry seeks to provide students with a foundation in the fundamentals and application of chemical theories and processes of the lab. Thus prepared they me pursue careers as teachers, industry supervisors, or research chemists in a variety of domains (governmental, academic, etc).

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The Department of Chemistry was founded in 1880.

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1880-present

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Abstract

The pH at silica-water interfaces (pHint) was measured by grafting a dual emission fluorescent probe (SNARF) onto the surface of mesoporous silica nanoparticles (MSN). The values of pHint of SNARF-MSN suspended in water were different from the pH of the bulk solution (pHbulk). The addition of acid or base to aqueous suspensions of SNARF-MSN induced much larger changes in pHbulk than pHint, indicating that the interface has buffering capacity. Grafting additional organic functional groups onto the surface of SNARF-MSN controls the pHint of its buffering region. The responses of pHint to variations in pHbulk are consistent with the acid/base properties of the surface groups as determined by their pKa and are affected by electrostatic interactions between charged interfacial species as evidenced by the dependence of ζ-potential on pHbulk. Finally, as a proof of principle, we demonstrate that the hydrolysis rate of an acid-sensitive acetal can be controlled by adjusting pHint via suitable functionalization of the MSN surface. Our findings can lead to the development of nanoreactors that protect sensitive species from adverse conditions and tune their chemical reactivity.

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