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Sol-gel nanometrology: gated sampling can reveal initial sol formation kinetics

Geddes, C.D. and Karolin, J. and Birch, D.J.S. (2002) Sol-gel nanometrology: gated sampling can reveal initial sol formation kinetics. Journal of Fluorescence, 12 (1). pp. 113-117. ISSN 1053-0509

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Abstract

This report describes a gated sampling approach for studying the initial formation of sol-gel glasses prepared from sodium silicate solution (water glass) and sulphuric acid. Previously described were how changes in particle size and subsequently how sol-gel formation dynamics can be tracked using time-resolved fluorescence anisotropy, by labeling growing silica nanoparticles with suitable fluorescence probes. One limiting factor of this approach was the 2 minute measurement time, which limits this technique for studying the initial sol formation dynamics and limits the measurement precision. Using a continuous flow system and delaying sol flow through different tubing lengths overcomes this problem and allows monitoring of the very early stages of sol formation, second by second after sol preparation, irrespective of the anisotropy measurement time. This technique was applied to studying the initial formation dynamics, within the first 30 seconds, of a 12.01% SiO2 (w/w), pH 0.66 sol-gel, finding that silica particles of 1.5 nm mean radius are formed within 10 seconds of mixing the sol-gel.