Microstructure Evolution of Nonhydrolytic Alumina Gels
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Nonhydrolitic sol-gel processes of aluminum chloride and aluminum bromide with isopropyl ether and aluminum sec-butoxide were performed at various temperatures. Based on the Arrhenius type variation of the gelation time with temperature, activation energies for the gelation were found to be in the range 19–25 Kcal/mol range. The energies were found to be sensitive to the nature of the aluminum ligands and the chemical scheme. Due to the large activation energy, it is possible to stop the reaction at any time before gelation by cooling the sol to room temperature. Small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) of sols from the AlClAlCl3/Pr\(_2^i \)O system shows unique development of a fractal like structure with nanometer scale order, demonstrated by discrete peaks in the SAXS data. A fractal dimension D = 1.64 was found. An aggregation scheme is proposed to explain this phenomenon. A fractal dimension of 2.4 without small scale ordering found for xerogels prepared from the AlCl3/ASB system reflects the effect of the different precursors on the microstructure of nonhydrolytic gels.
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