Controlling the hydrophobicity of submicrometer silica spheres via surface modification for nanocomposite applications

Zhijian Wu, Hyuk Han, Woojoo Han, Bumsang Kim, Kyung Hyun Ahn, Kangtaek Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)


We control the hydrophobicity of submicrometer silica spheres by modifying their surface with -CH3, -CH=CH2, -(CH2) 2CH3, -CH2(CH2)4CH 2-, -C6H5, -(CH2)7CH 3, and -(CH2)11CH3 groups through a modified one-step process. The scanning electron microscopy (SEM), quasi-elastic light scattering (QELS), UV-visible spectra, nitrogen sorption, and water vapor adsorption methods are used to characterize the particles. The SEM micrographs of the particles demonstrate that the modified particles are uniformly spherical, monodisperse, and well-shaped with the particle size ranging from 130 to 149 nm depending on the modified organic groups. In aqueous solution, the particles modified with phenyl groups have an obvious UV absorption peak at around 210 nm, whereas the other modified particles and unmodified particles do not have any UV-visible absorption peaks. There exist obvious differences in the amount of water vapor adsorbed depending on the type of surface functional groups of the modified particles. Compared with the unmodified particles, the modified particles have a lower water vapor adsorption because of the improved hydrophobicity of the particle surface. As a potential application, we prepared polystyrene/SiO2 nanocomposites by blending polystyrene with the synthesized particles. Water contact angle measurements show that the surface of the composite prepared with the modified particles are more hydrophobic. Confocal microcopy demonstrates that the particles are less agglomerated in the nanocomposite as the particles become more hydrophobic. These comprehensive experimental results demonstrate that the hydrophobicity of the particles can be easily controlled by surface modification with different organosilanes through a modified one-step process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7799-7803
Number of pages5
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 2007 Jul 3

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Spectroscopy
  • Electrochemistry


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