Melt Synthesis, Structural, Characterization and Scaling of Swelling 2:1-Layer Silicate Materials
- Melt synthesis, characterization, and refinement of single crystal structures of swelling 2:1-layer silicates were the main fundamental topics of the presented thesis. In particular, large scale syntheses of both lithium and sodium fluorohectorite were successfully achieved. Furthermore, the crystal structure of one-, and two-layer hydrate of sodium fluorohectorite and the one-layer hydrate of sodium brittle mica were thoroughly investigated and characterized in detail.
Swelling sodium fluorohectorite with good crystallinity in an ideal composition of Na0.85[Mg2.15Li0.85]Si4O10F2 was synthesized for investigating the hydrated structure. Melt synthesis was done in closed molybdenum crucibles using pure reagents (glass with composition Na2O-2SiO2, Li2SiO3 MgF2, MgO, SiO2). The crystal structures of one- and two-layer hydrate of sodium fluorohectorite were studied. The one-layer hydrate of sodium fluorohectorite (at relative humidity 45 %) showed two planes of interlayer sodium along . The two-layer hydrate of sodium fluorohectorite showed sodium interlayer cations being located in the middle of the interlayer.
In addition, sodium brittle mica with a target composition Na4[Mg6]Si4Al4O20F4 was successfully synthesized via melt synthesis in a gas tight molybdenum crucible and the refinement of the one-layer hydrate of sodium brittle mica was done. The synthetic sodium brittle mica swells only to the one-layer hydrate and could not be further hydrated to the two-layer hydrate.
Generally, natural swelling layer silicates (smectites) usually contain impurities such as iron oxide (pigmentation material), quartz, and carbonate. However, these impurities hinder the employment of swelling layer silicates in industry for cutting edge and advanced applications. In addition, they suffer from small particle size under 5 µm limiting their aspect ratio. For industrial applications, pure synthetic swelling layer silicates with superior properties are highly desirable.
Therefore, a large scale synthesis of sodium fluorohectorite Na0.6[Mg2.4Li0.6]Si4O10F2 was carried out in three steps. (i) Synthesis of glass, glass was used as precursor and low melting agent, the amorphous glass with composition Na2O-Li2O-6SiO2 was synthesized from sodium carbonate Na2CO3, lithium carbonate Li2CO3, and silicic acid SiO2∙nH2O via melt synthesis in an open glassy carbon crucible at 1075 °C under flowing argon in a high frequency induction furnace, where the temperature was increased with a constant rate of 300°C/hr. (ii) dehydration and decarboxylation of silicic acid SiO2∙nH2O and magnesium basic carbonate MgCO3∙Mg(OH) respectively at 900 °C for one hour in a corundum crucible in a chamber furnace. (iii) Mixing and melting the glass, the material obtained by dehydration and decarboxylation of SiO2∙nH2O and MgCO3∙Mg(OH)2 together with magnesium fluoride to achieve a composition of Na0.6[Mg2.4Li0.6]Si4O10F2. The total mixture was transferred into a glassy carbon crucible and melted at 1265 °C under argon for 15 min. The synthetic sodium fluorohectorite showed uniform and high intracrystalline reactivity, represented a pure phase, which was colorless and of good crystallinity.
High aspect ratio layer silicates would be an optimum functional material for future application in polymer layered silicate nanocomposites. Delamination via osmotic swelling is known in laponite-type clays. High hydration energy of the interlayer cation, such as lithium can force layer silicates to swell infinitely and delaminate. Consequently, the lithium fluorohectorite with variable layer charge was synthesized via melt synthesis in an open glassy carbon crucible in a high frequency induction furnace. The same procedure used for sodium fluorohectorite was applied for lithium fluorohectorite, where the glass with composition Li2O-2SiO2 was prepared via reaction of lithium carbonate with silicic acid at 1200 °C for 1hr. Due to the high fugacity of lithium fluoride, excess of one mole Li and F was added via lithium silicate and magnesium fluoride respectively. The raw material of lithium fluorohectorite was melted at 1350 °C for 10 min.
The synthetic lithium fluorohectorite showed uniform intracrystalline reactivity, came in large well crystalline tactoids and completely delaminated to a single silicate layers in water. The lithium fluorohectorite behavior reveals that these materials have high potential for barrier application and flame retardancy. Furthermore, the lithium fluorohectorite was synthesized in large scale.
Unique Emulsions based on recombinant Hydrophobins
- Hydrophobins are very interesting proteins of fungal origin. Beside their relatively small size of around 100 amino acids, they are well known to be the most surface active, natural proteins that have a strong tendency for self-assembly. Due to their versatile properties hydrophobins are present in different fungal structures, like as coaters of hyphae. These diversified properties of hydrophobins raised great interest among scientists. Possible applications in surface modification or emulsion industry were always restricted by the cost and effort of natural hydrophobin purification. This changed dramatically by the use of white biotechnology resulting in the availability of high amounts of recombinant hydrophobins nowadays. This study started with the physicochemical characterization of two recombinant hydrophobins, called H Star Proteins ® A and B. Both show a remarkable, time-dependent surface activity as well as a distinct aggregation behaviour indicating them to have the typical properties of natural hydrophobins. The use of the recombinant hydrophobins as emulsifier resulted in the formation of gel-like oil in water emulsions. Interestingly, without the occurrence of typical emulsion instability processes like creaming or coalescence, these emulsions showed significant aging effects. We conclude them to be the consequence of the time-dependent formation and progression of a self-supporting, three-dimensional protein network that evolves in the emulsion. The self-assemble tendency of recombinant hydrophobins is clearly not limited by adsorption to the oil-water interface. Obviously the long term stability of the emulsion is determined by the sticky character of the hydrophobin coated oil droplets that attract each other in the short range distance. This type of emulsion stabilization mechanism is absolutely novel in the field of emulsion technology. Moreover we used the hydrophobins’ ability of surface modification in order to coat disk-like clay particles. These clay-hydrophobin sandwiches were used for the formation of Pickering Emulsions. It turned out that the synergistic use of clay and hydrophobin resulted in homogenous, long-term stable and tooth-paste like emulsions. The clay particles improved strikingly the rigidity and elasticity of the self-supporting hydrophobin network. Substitution of the clay particles by boehmite needles resulted in similar Pickering emulsions. Finally, we report that it is possible to replace hydrophobin in combination with clay by other proteins, amphiphiles or surfactants. By adjusting the preparation conditions, the emulsifier concentration or the oil mass fraction one has a versatile tool to obtain Pickering emulsions with the desired properties. A new stabilization mechanism in emulsion science is introduced, supported and confirmed by our results.