American Chemical Society
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Chromonic Liquid Crystalline Phases of Pinacyanol Acetate: Characterization and Use as Templates for the Preparation of Mesoporous Silica Nanofibers

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journal contribution
posted on 2011-03-15, 00:00 authored by Carlos Rodríguez-Abreu, Carolina Aubery Torres, Gordon J. T. Tiddy
We report on the self-aggregation of the cationic dye pinacyanol acetate and its use for the preparation of nanostructured silica via templated sol−gel reaction. The dye forms nematic and hexagonal chromonic liquid crystals at low concentrations in water (i.e., from 0.75 wt %); the type of counterion appears to play an important role in liquid crystal formation. From analysis of small X-ray scattering (SAXS) curves, it is inferred that dye aggregates have the morphology of hollow long tubes with one-molecule-thick walls; the diameter of the tubes does not to change much with concentration. The dye aggregates can be aligned by shear or by a magnetic field. The high-resolution 1H NMR spectra show that aggregation takes place over a range of concentrations rather than having a sharp “critical” aggregation. Within the aggregates the conjugated moiety, including the three-carbon link, is in close proximity to the aromatic groups of stack neighbors. On the other hand, dye aggregates direct the formation of silica nanofibers synthesized via sol−gel reaction, mimicking the elongated structures found in aqueous media. The nanofibers show a hierarchical organization; i.e., they contain hexagonal arrays of 3 nm cylindrical mesopores left after calcination of the templating molecules, and the pore walls are 2.7 nm thick. As the nanofibers form entangled networks, the obtained materials also show interparticle porosity. The present findings open new possibilities for the use of commercial cationic dyes in the synthesis of nanostructured materials.