Electrochemical and infrared spectroscopy studies of an ionizable self-assembled monolayer
Switchable surfaces, also called ‘smart surfaces’ or ‘controllable surfaces’, respond to changes in their local environment resulting in altered surface properties. There are various environmental perturbations that can cause changes to the surface properties but the focus of this thesis is on the affect of electrostatic potential. Significant evidence is provided from previous reports on electrochemical and infrared spectroscopic experiments suggesting that self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) of 4-mercaptobenzoic acid (4-MBA) undergo protonation-deprotonation by the application of an electric field. However, there are plenty of aspects of this electric field driven protonation-deprotonation mechanisms using carboxylic acid terminated SAMs that are not well understood. Most importantly, there is a lack of model independent measurements to validate this process. As such, experimental techniques utilizing infrared spectroscopy were employed to correlate electrochemical measurements and models. This body of work demonstrates the importance of the intermolecular hydrogen bonding network on the measured voltammetric peak associated with the protonation-deprotonation of these SAMs. The voltammetric peak height diminishes with increasing exposure to an electrolyte solution. This behaviour is attributed to the replacement of the carboxylic acid protons with electrolyte cations and ultimately the disruption of the hydrogen bonded network. We attempted to further our ex-situ infrared measurements by using an in-situ spectroelectrochemical technique. We had some initial successes, presented within, but more work is needed to complete this picture and is beyond the scope of this thesis. To summarize, the protonated state of SAMs of 4-MBA can be driven by the application of an electric field providing a potential platform to build a controllable ‘smart surface’.
Carboxylic Acids, Self-Assembled Monolayers, Electrochemistry, Infrared Spectroscopy
Master of Science (M.Sc.)