Synthesis and rapid characterization of amine-functionalized silica

Langmuir. 2012 Apr 3;28(13):5562-9. doi: 10.1021/la204981b. Epub 2012 Mar 20.


Amine-functionalized colloidal silica finds use in a variety of applications and fundamental investigations. To explore convenient methods of synthesis and characterization of research-grade materials in relatively large quantities, nearly monodisperse colloidal silica particles were prepared by base-catalyzed hydrolysis of reagent-grade tetraethyl orthosilicate (TEOS) without the traditional time- and energy-consuming distillation step. Radius was varied reliably from 30 to 125 nm by changing the water/TEOS ratio. Asymmetric flow field flow fractionation (AF4) methods with online light scattering detection proved effective in assessing the uniformity of the various preparations. Even highly uniform commercial standards were resolved by AF4. The surface of the colloidal silica was decorated with amino groups using (3-aminopropyl) trimethoxysilane and spacer methyl groups from methyl-trimethoxysilane. The surface density of amino groups was quantified spectrophotometrically after reaction with ninhydrin; the nature of this analysis avoids interference from sample turbidity. As an alternative to the ninhydrin test, an empirical relationship between surface density of amino groups and zeta potential at low pH was found. The size of the colloidal silica was predictably decreased by etching with HF; this method will be effective for some preparations, despite a modest reduction in size uniformity.