Probing the environmental response of charged aqueous surfaces




Cai, Canyu

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The molecular structure and charge on solid surfaces in aqueous environments is of fundamental importance to various scientific research and applications, yet remain not sufficiently understood. The research herein uses sum frequency generation spectroscopy to reveal the molecular structure of the mineral and polymer surfaces, and also probes the water molecules near the charged aqueous interfaces to get information about the surface charge. The application of visible-infrared sum-frequency generation spectroscopy to polymer thin-films requires a careful interpretation of the results, as the electric field magnitude and phase at each interface must be determined in a manner that takes thin film interference effects into account. A straightforward method that has a concise analytic solution in the case of a single thin film that exhibits interference effects was proposed. This method enabled selective probing of transparent thin-films using sum frequency generation spectroscopy, hence eliminated the ambiguity of the contribution of signal from two interfaces. The method was then extended to multiple polarization schemes, enabling easier and more comprehensive study of the molecular orientation on thin-films. Nonlinear vibrational spectroscopy has also been used to study the temperature-dependent surface structure of polydimethylsiloxane when exposed to water and a perfluorinated hydrophobic liquid. Quantitative analysis of the methyl plane orientation was performed using a combination of vibrational peak ratios and peak amplitudes that enable proposed structures to be identified. For both environments, the tilt and twist of the methyl plane was found to increase with temperature in a reversible manner. This has been attributed to be a consequence of the backbone reorganization due to temperature-dependent density changes. At charged aqueous interfaces, the structure of water adjacent to solid interface is sensitive to the surface potential. As a result, close inspection of signals originating from these water molecules can be used to reveal the surface charge density. Nonlinear vibrational spectroscopy was used to monitor the water O-H stretching band over a temperature range of 10-75°C to account for the increase in surface potential from deprotonation. It has been demonstrated that the behavior at the silica surface is a balance between increasing surface charge, and a decreasing contribution of water molecules aligned by the surface charge. Together with a model that accounts for two different types of silanol sites, the change in enthalpy and entropy for deprotonation at each site were reported. The surface charge density of untreated polydimethylsiloxane surface in water with various ionic strengths was also determined. It was found that the surface charge could be explained with an ion adsorption model. A relationship between the surface potential and measured nonlinear optics response that is valid at high potentials and low ionic strength was proposed. Finally, a universal method was demonstrated to derive the surface potential with nonlinear optics by modulating the coherence length.



nonlinear optics, sum frequency generation, surface charge, silica, silicone, Polydimethylsiloxane