The impact of deuterium oxide on the properties of resorcinol-formaldehyde gels

Prostredny, Martin and Ballantine, Jack and Sefcik, Jan and Fletcher, Ashleigh J. (2019) The impact of deuterium oxide on the properties of resorcinol-formaldehyde gels. Journal of Sol-Gel Science and Technology, 89 (1). 21–28. ISSN 0928-0707 (

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Resorcinol-formaldehyde gels offer a range of properties that can be exploited in a variety of applications, but better understanding of gel formation mechanisms is needed to enable rational control and optimisation of the physico-chemical characteristics of these materials. Our previous studies have focussed on investigating the formation pathways of these gels, using nuclear magnetic resonance and dynamic light-scattering techniques, as well as evaluating their final physical and chemical properties, via sorption and spectroscopic methods. Nuclear magnetic resonance has been used over the years to probe the chemical species formed during resorcinol-formaldehyde gel polymerisation, but the technique typically involves the prior addition of deuterium oxide to provide a deuterium lock for NMR measurements. However, the effect of deuterium oxide to resorcinol-formaldehyde systems is currently unknown, although the substitution of water by deuterium oxide has been previously reported to alter the chemical and physical properties of reacting systems. In this work we examine the effect of adding deuterium oxide to resorcinol-formaldehyde sol-gel synthesis at different dilution levels and the impact that this addition has on the final characteristics of the synthesised gels, in order to assess the validity of using NMR with a deuterium lock for the investigation of polymerisation mechanism in resorcinol-formaldehyde sol-gel processes.