Interfacial Electrostatic Properties of Hydrated Mesoporous and Nanostructured Alumina Powders by Spin Labeling EPR

Elena G. Kovaleva, Leonid S. Molochnikov, Darya P. Stepanova, Alexander V. Pestov, Dmitrii G. Trofimov, Igor A. Kirilyuk, Alex I. Smirnov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Acid-base equilibria and interfacial electrostatic properties of hydrated mesoporous and nanostructured alumina powders are determining factors for the use of these materials in heterogeneous catalysis and as a sorption media for filtration and chromatographic applications including life sciences. Here spin probe electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy of pH-sensitive nitroxides was employed to evaluate the surface charge and interfacial acid-base equilibria at the pore surface of mesoporous powders of α-Al2O3, γ-Al2O3, Al2O3 × nH2O, and basic γ-Al2O3 and nanostructured Al2O3 in the form of pristine materials and modified with aluminum-tri-sec-butoxide, hydroxyaluminum glycerate, and several phospholipids. A new pH-sensitive nitroxide probe, 4-dimethylamino-5,5-dimethyl-2-(4-(chloromethyl)phenyl)-2-ethyl-2,5-dihydro-1H-imidazol-1-oxyl hydrochloride semihydrate (nitroxide R1), has been synthesized and characterized. It was found that conditions of preparation of alumina powders exert strikingly large effects on the apparent pKa of nitroxides measured from electron paramagnetic resonance titration curves. Specifically, while the electron paramagnetic resonance titrations curves for the nitroxide R1 in mesoporous powders prepared from basic γ-Al2O3 and Al2O3 × nH2O were shifted by ΔpKa≈ +0.6 and up to ≈ +1.2 pH units respectively, the shift for γ-Al2O3 was found to be much higher: ΔpKa = +3.5. Assuming approximately the same ∆pH = 0.5–1.0 arising from a difference in the hydrogen ion activity between the bulk solution phase and that in a confined pore volume, the samples were ranked in the following order of descending magnitude of the effective surface electrostatic potential Ψ: mesoporous γ-Al2O3 > Al2O3 × nH2O > basic γ-Al2O3 > α-Al2O3. Conditions of the Al2O3 synthesis as well as the surface modification procedures were found to have profound effects on the interfacial electrostatic properties of hydrated samples that are likely related to the nature and concentration of the active sites on the alumina surfaces.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-170
Number of pages12
JournalCell Biochemistry and Biophysics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017


  • Aluminum alkoxides
  • Mesoporous alumina
  • pH-sensitive nitroxides
  • Phospholipids
  • PH


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