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Journal of Nanomaterials
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 7950876, 8 pages
Research Article

Carboxylation and Decarboxylation of Aluminum Oxide Nanoparticles Using Bifunctional Carboxylic Acids and Octylamine

1Energy Safety Research Institute (ESRI), Swansea University Bay Campus, Fabian Way, Swansea SA1 8EN, UK
2Department of Chemistry, Rice University, Houston, TX 77005, USA
3Department of Materials Science and Nanoengineering, Rice University, Houston, TX 77005, USA

Received 4 December 2015; Accepted 27 January 2016

Academic Editor: Hua Zou

Copyright © 2016 Shirin Alexander et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The carboxylation of alumina nanoparticles (NPs), with bifunctional carboxylic acids, provides molecular anchors that are used for building more complexed structures via either physisorption or chemisorption. Colloidal suspensions of the NPs may be prepared by covalently bonding a series of carboxylic acids with secondary functional groups (HO2C-R-X) to the surface of the NPs: lysine (X = NH2), p-hydroxybenzoic acid (X = OH), fumaric acid (X = CO2H), and 4-formylbenzoic acid (X = C(O)H). Subsequent reaction with octylamine at either 25°C or 70°C was investigated. Fourier transform IR-attenuated reflectance spectroscopy (FTIR-ATR), thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) along with energy dispersive X-ray (EDX) analysis were used to characterize the bifunctionalized monolayers and/or multilayer corona surrounding the alumina NPs and investigate the reaction mechanism of octylamine with the functional groups (X) of the NPs. Except for the fumaric functionalized NPs, addition of octylamine to the functionalized NPs leads to removal of excess carboxylic acid corona from the surface via an amide formation. The extent of the multilayer is dependent on the strength of the acid⋯acid interaction.