Predicting the Conformation of Organic Catalysts Grafted on Silica Surfaces with Different Numbers of Tethering Chains: The Silicopodality Concept

I Miletto and C Ivaldi and E Gianotti and G Paul and F Travagin and GB Giovenzana and A Fraccarollo and D Marchi and L Marchese and M Cossi, JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY C, 125, 21199-21210 (2021).

DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpcc.1c06150

Hybrid catalysts are attracting much attention, since they combine the versatility and efficiency of homogeneous organic catalysis with the robustness and thermal stability of solid materials, for example, mesoporous silica; in addition, they can be used in cascade reactions, for exploring both organic and inorganic catalysis at the same time. Despite the importance of the organic/inorganic interface in these materials, the effect of the grafting architecture on the final conformation of the organic layer (and hence its reactivity) is still largely unexplored. Here, we investigate a series of organosiloxanes comprising a pyridine ring (the catalyst model) and different numbers of alkylsiloxane chains used to anchor it to the MCM-41 surface. The hybrid interfaces are characterized with X-ray powder diffraction, thermogravimetric analyses, Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy, nuclear magnetic resonance techniques and are modeled theoretically through molecular dynamics (MD) simulations, to determine the relationship between the number of chains and the average position of the pyridine group; MD simulations also provide some insights about temperature and solvent effects.

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