Condensation-enhanced self-assembly as a route to high surface area α-aluminas

Lidia López Pérez, Valeriya Zarubina, Hero Jan Heeres, Ignacio Melián-Cabrera*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


High surface area nanosized α-alumina has been obtained by thermally treating a sol-gel-derived mesophase at 1200 C; the mesophase was synthesized by a sol-gel route involving evaporation induced self-assembly (EISA) of a hydrolyzed gel from Al-tri-sec-butoxide in s-BuOH in the presence of a nonionic surfactant (EO20PO70EO20), HCl as catalyst, and water (H2O/Al = 6). The activated material renders moderate surface areas of about 8.4-10 m2 g-1, associated with significant crystallite coarsening. The key aspect to produce smaller crystallites is making the mesophase more resistant to coarsening. This was achieved by enhancing the condensation step by treating the hydrolyzed gel with tetrabutyl ammonium hydroxide (TBAOH) before evaporation. The characteristics of the mesophase indicate condensation of the primary particles with less AlO5 unsaturated sites, at the expense of a lower solid yield due to small crystallites dissolution. The activated TBAOH condensed EISA material is composed of α-alumina aggregated crystallites of about 60-100 nm, and the material possesses surface areas ranging from 16 to 24 m2 g -1 due to the improved resistance to coarsening. At least two aspects are suggested to play a role in this. The worm-hole morphology of the mesophase aggregates yields high particle coordination, which favors densification rather than coarsening. Furthermore, the decrease of the AlO5 defect sites by the TBAOH condensation makes the mesophase less reactive and consequently more resistant to coarsening.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3971-3978
Number of pages8
JournalChemistry of Materials
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sept 2013


  • α-alumina
  • alkoxide
  • condensation
  • evaporation induced self-assembly
  • high-temperature crystallization
  • sol-gel


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