On the Comparative Analysis of Different Phase Coexistences in Mesoporous Materials

Materials (Basel). 2022 Mar 22;15(7):2350. doi: 10.3390/ma15072350.


Alterations of fluid phase transitions in porous materials are conventionally employed for the characterization of mesoporous solids. In the first approximation, this may be based on the application of the Kelvin equation for gas-liquid and the Gibbs-Thomson equation for solid-liquid phase equilibria for obtaining pore size distributions. Herein, we provide a comparative analysis of different phase coexistences measured in mesoporous silica solids with different pore sizes and morphology. Instead of comparing the resulting pore size distributions, we rather compare the transitions directly by using a common coordinate for varying the experiment's thermodynamic parameters based on the two equations mentioned. Both phase transitions in these coordinates produce comparable results for mesoporous solids of relatively large pore sizes. In contrast, marked differences are found for materials with smaller pore sizes. This illuminates the fact that, with reducing confinement sizes, thermodynamic fluctuations become increasingly important and different for different equilibria considered. In addition, we show that in the coordinate used for analysis, mercury intrusion matches perfectly with desorption and freezing transitions.

Keywords: NMR cryoporometry; mercury porosimetry; nitrogen sorption; phase equilibria; porous solids; thermoporometry.