Gel transfromations in silicas - a combined NMR and SAXS study

W.H. Dokter, H.F. Garderen, van, T.P.M. Beelen, J.W. Haan, de, L.J.M. Ven, van de, R.A. Santen, van

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H-1 NMR transverse spin-spin relaxation times (T2) of water have been measured to monitor the aggregation and aging processes of low concentration silica gels. Along with H-1 NMR, small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) and physisorption measurements; were used to obtain additional information on aging. After acidification of water-glass (silica solution) the primary building units combine to form aggregates with fractal dimensionalities (decreasing T2). Gelation occurs when these growing aggregates form a percolating network, resulting in a minimum value of the T2 relaxation time. During and after these processes, rearrangements of silica take place (aging), a crucial step in the formation of pores. The aging of silica gel can be monitored by changing the relaxation behaviour (increasing T2). With SAXS a densification of the structure is indicated by an observed decrease in fractal dimensionalities and an increase in the radius of the primary building units, indicating a migration of silica from the tips of the aggregates towards the centre of the aggregates. Aging is a slow process compared with the aggregation of the primary particles, but it can be accelerated by adding catalytic quantities of fluorine or by preparation at higher pH or at higher temperatures. By using spin-spin relaxation measurements, reacting aqueous silica systems with a low solid content could be studied in situ. It is shown that hydroxyl and fluoride ions have different impacts on the silica systems, leading to different mechanisms. For aggregation and aging we observed (different) optimal fluorine concentrations
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-171
Number of pages7
JournalColloids and Surfaces A: Physicochemical and Engineering Aspects
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - 1993


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