Adsorption of trimethyl phosphate and triethyl phosphate on dry and water pre-covered hematite, maghemite, and goethite nanoparticles

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Adsorption of trimethyl phosphate (TMP) and triethyl phosphate (TEP) on well-characterized nanopartides of hematite (alpha-Fe2O3), maghemite (gamma-Fe2O3), and goethite (alpha-FeOOH) has been studied by in situ diffuse reflectance infrared Fourier transform spectroscopy (DRIFTS), 2D correlation DRIFTS analysis, and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) on dry and water pre-covered surfaces. It is shown that, at room temperature and low coverage, both TMP and TEP coordinate to Lewis acid Fe sites through the O phosphoryl atom on hematite and maghemite, while hydrogen bonding to Bronstedt acid surface OH groups dominates on goethite. At room temperature, slow dissociation of TMP occurs on the iron (hydr)oxide nanoparticles, whereby a methoxy group is displaced to form surface methoxy, leaving adsorbed dimethyl phosphate (DMP). Methoxy is further decomposed to formate, suggesting an oxidative degradation pathway in synthetic air on the oxide particles. Relatively, larger amounts of DMP and surface methoxy form on maghemite, while more formate is produced on hematite. Upon TMP adsorption on dry goethite nanoparticles, no oxidation surface products were detected. Instead, a slow TMP hydrolysis pathway is observed, yielding orthophosphate. It is found that pre-adsorbed water stimulates the hydrolysis of TMP. In contrast to TMP, TEP adsorbs molecularly on all iron hydr(oxide) nanoparticles. This is attributed to the longer aliphatic chain, which stabilizes the loss of charge on the methoxy C-O bonds by charge redistribution upon phosphoryl O coordination to Fe surface atoms. The presented results implicate different reactivity depending on specific molecular structure of the organophosphorus compound (larger functional groups can compensate loss of charge due to surface coordination) and iron (hydr)oxide surface structure (exposing Lewis acid or Bronstedt acid sites). (c) 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


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  • Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)349-358
JournalJournal of Colloid and Interface Science
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Publication categoryResearch
Externally publishedYes