Date of Award

Spring 5-13-2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

PhD. Chemistry


Chemistry and Biochemistry


Alexander Y. Fadeev, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Sergiu M. Gorun, Ph.D.

Committee Member

David Sabatino, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Cecilia Marzabadi, Ph.D.


Water Adsorption, Wetting, Silica, Metal Oxides, Fluorinated Metal Phthalocyanines, Encapsulation, Catalysis


The surface of most metal oxides is covered by hydroxyl groups which influence many surface phenomena such as adsorption and wetting, catalysis and surface reactions. Surface chemistry of silica is a subject of exhaustive studies owing to a wide variety of practical applications of silica. In Chapter 1, a brief review of classification, synthesis and characterization of silica is provided. The hydroxylation of silica surface i.e the number of hydroxyl (-OH) groups on the surface is of utmost importance for its practical applications. In Chapter 2, a brief introduction to surface hydration of silica is provided followed by the gas adsorption measurements and characterization.

Pore wetting is critical to many applications of mesoporous adsorbents, catalysts, and separation materials. In the work presented in Chapter 3, we employed the combined vapor adsorption study using nitrogen (77K) and water (293K) isotherms to evaluate the water contact angles for a series of ordered mesoporous silicas (ex:SBA-15). The proposed method of contact angle relies on the statistical film thickness (t-curve) of the adsorbed water. There were no t-curves for water for dehydroxylated or hydrophobic surfaces in literature and we addressed this issue by measuring t-curves for a series of model surfaces with known and varying silanol coverage. Using the radius of menisci ((𝐻2𝑂)), statistical film thickness t(H2O) from water isotherm, and the true radius of pores (π‘Ÿπ‘(𝑁2)), from nitrogen isotherms, the water contact angle inside pores were calculated. As it was anticipated, the results obtained showed that the silica pore contact angles were strongly influenced by the number of the surface silanol groups and, therefore, by the thermal and hydration treatments of silicas.

Phthalocyanines (Pcs) present an interesting class of catalytically active of molecules with unique spectroscopic, photoelectric, and sometimes magnetic properties. In the work presented in Chapter 4, we have undertaken a systematic study to explore the possibility of preparing a supported catalyst material i.e loading fluorinated metal phthalocyanines onto metal oxide surfaces by two other techniques in addition to solution adsorption. Techniques or procedures that have been used to immobilize MPcs include: i) physical adsorption (from solution) onto metal oxide surface, ii) deposition by pore filling and encapsulation and iii) mesopore entrapment or confinement. The MPcs are loaded on to metal oxides with an aim to: a) maximize the surface area of the Pcs by distributing it over the support, b) immobilize the Pcs so that they do not leach into the solution environment, c) improve the thermal stability of the Pcs and d) attempt to achieve single-site catalysis. All the immobilization techniques were carried out with F64PcZn as the model MPc, acetone as the immobilization solvent and silica or alumina as adsorbents (solid support).

An understanding of gas adsorption mechanisms on metal phthalocyanines (MPcs) is essential for their practical application in biological processes, gas sensing, and catalysis. In this work, the surface characteristics were probed by performing nitrogen and water adsorption on the free-form MPcs (without immobilization on solid support) and characterization of their physical properties. The combined vapor adsorption study (developed in Chapter 3) enabled in understanding the affinity of Pcs towards water vapor i.e number of water molecules adsorbed per phthalocyanine molecule was obtained. This information is very relevant towards using Pcs as catalyst since water vapor is guaranteed to be present in most of the catalytic reaction environment.