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Structure of liquid propionitrile at interfaces. 2. Experiment

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Published copy (DOI)


  • Feng Ding
  • Qin Zhong
  • Katherine Manfred
  • Xiaoxiao He
  • John S. Bender
  • Michael R. Brindza
  • Robert A. Walker
  • John T. Fourkas


Publication details

JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry C
DatePublished - 16 Feb 2012
Issue number6
Number of pages7
Pages (from-to)4019-4025
Original languageEnglish


Propionitrile has been studied at the liquid/vapor, silica/vapor, and silica/liquid interfaces using vibrational sum-frequency generation (VSFG) spectroscopy and optical Kerr effect (OKE) spectroscopy. VSFG studies show that the alkyl tail of propionitrile tends to point into the vapor phase at the liquid/vapor and silica/vapor interfaces. At the silica/liquid interface, all vibrational resonances except for the methylene symmetric stretch exhibit strong cancellation in the VSFG signal. This result supports the existence of a lipid-bilayer-like organization at the silica/liquid interface, in agreement with simulation. OKE data for propionitrile confined in porous sol-gel glasses indicate that there is a surface layer, with a thickness of roughly 4 Å, that experiences inhibited orientational dynamics. The OKE data thus corroborate the picture of interfacial organization suggested by the VSFG results.

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