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Research Highlight

Hydrogen-Bond Driven Chemical Separations: Elucidating the Interfacial Steps of Self-Assembly in Solvent Extraction

Topic: Materials

Scientific Achievement

The elusive interfacial chemistry underlying solvent extraction has been mapped in real time using nonlinear laser spectroscopy 

Significance and Impact

New insight into the interfacial mechanisms of solvent extraction can provide avenues to rationally design new ligands and extraction processes to isolate key species from complex mixtures

Research Details

  • Vibrational sum frequency generation was used to probe the buried oil-aqueous interface during the extraction of Co2+, a technologically important element 
  • pH mediated H-bonding networks drive the assembly of ligands into aggregates bridged by H2O
  • Variation in the surface charge due to Co2+ complexation leads to new H-bonding networks
  • The aggregates can be tuned using pH and Co2+ concentration which provides opportunity to design separations leveraging interfacial self-assembly
Chowdhury, A. U-A.; Lin, L.; Doughty, B. ACS Appl. Mater. Interface 2020 DOI:10.1021/acsami.0c06176