Surface functionalisation of mesoporous silicas is critical to their application as sorbents and catalyst supports. Here we report the impact of chloride on the physicochemical properties of SBA-15, notably the surface density of reactive hydroxyl groups. Bulk and surface properties were characterised by N2 porosimetry, X-ray diffraction, SEM, TEM, FTIR spectroscopy, and Inverse gas chromatography (IGC). Increasing the HCl concentration from 0.1 → 2.0 M during the sol-gel preparation of SBA-15 increased the surface silanol coverage two-fold, and slightly widened mesopores from 4.2 to 4.9 nm. IGC reveals that the specific surface energy and corresponding surface polarity of SBA-15 correlate with surface silanol properties, and hence tuning the HCl concentration during SBA-15 synthesis offers a facile route to hydrophilic or hydrophobic silicas, and in turn a means to control their functionalisation and sorptive properties.
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- Hydrothermal synthesis
- Silanol density
- Surface energy
- Inverse gas chromatography (IGC)