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Effect of Intermolecular Interactions on the Carbon 1s Near Edge X-ray Absorption Fine Structure (NEXAFS) Spectroscopy of n-Alkanes



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“Matrix effects” in Near Edge X-ray Absorption Fine Structure (NEXAFS) spectroscopy are the spectroscopic changes induced by intermolecular interactions, providing sensitivity to local structure and order in solids and liquids. This project aims to identify the effect of intermolecular interactions caused by different n-alkane solid state structures on their NEXAFS spectra. Changes to the carbon 1s NEXAFS spectra are studied as a function of their solid state structure and organization. Two experimental approaches were proposed in this project. In the first approach, different n-alkane crystal structures (orthorhombic, monoclinic, etc.) are examined which arise as a function of n-alkane chain length. In the second approach, changes observed through the pre-melting point order-disorder phase transition found in n-alkanes are examined. This work will explore the characteristic spectroscopic differences observed between n-alkanes in different crystalline forms as well as in the disordered phase below the melting points. In this project, well-ordered diamond shape n-alkane single crystals were obtained by solution casting, using experimental conditions optimized for each n-alkane. As circularly polarized radiation will average the effect of molecular orientation, circularly polarized radiation was used to obtain the NEXAFS spectra of n-alkanes. However, in the analysis of the NEXAFS spectra of n-alkanes recorded with the left circularly polarized X-rays, a significant linear polarization contamination was found. Therefore, linearly polarized X-rays were used to acquire angle dependent NEXAFS spectra, where the X-ray polarization was deliberately aligned along the principal axes (X, Y) of the n-alkane crystal. It was observed that the room temperature carbon 1s NEXAFS spectrum of n-octacosane (C28H58) was different from that of the other n-alkanes, n-tetracosane (C24H50), n-tricosane (C23H48) and n-tetracontane (C40H82). This difference can be attributed due to the different crystal packing of n-octacosane (C28H58 - monoclinic) relative to the other n-alkanes (triclinic and orthorhombic), suggesting different intermolecular interactions (matrix effects) in n-octacosane (C28H58). The analysis of the temperature dependent NEXAFS spectra of n-alkanes reveals that samples of the short chain n-alkane crystals, specially n-tricosane (C23H48), n-tetracosane (C24H50) and n-octacosane (C28H58), sublimed in the STXM microscope. Changes observed in the carbon 1s NEXAFS spectra of n-tetracontane (C40H82) with temperature were attributed to the order-disorder transition. This further illustrates the existence of matrix effects in the NEXAFS spectra of n-alkanes.



NEXAFS, n-alkanes, matrix effects, crystal structures



Master of Science (M.Sc.)






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