Honoring our friend and late Prof. Jacob Israelachvilli (featured together with Dr. Alex Schrader and Prof. Songi Han in UCSB Current)
Prof. Songi Han and Dr. Alex Schrader explained how the chemical topology of silica can influence the effectiveness of many chemical processes that use it.
UCSB researchers find that the chemical topology of silica can influence the effectiveness of many chemical processes that use it
By Sonia Fernandez - UC Santa Barbara Current
(Santa Barbara, Calif.) — Better known as glass, silica is a versatile material used in myriad industrial processes, from catalysis and filtration, to chromatography and nanofabrication. Yet despite its ubiquity in labs and cleanrooms, surprisingly little is known about silica’s surface interactions with water at a molecular level.
“The way water interacts with a surface affects many processes,” said Songi Han, a UC Santa Barbara professor of chemistry and author on a recent paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In many cases, she explained, scientists and engineers intuit the potential interactions between silica and water and design equipment, experiments and processes based on empirical evidence. But a mechanistic understanding of how the chemical topology of silica surfaces alter the structure of water at the surface could lead to a rationale design of these processes.
For many people, glass is glass, and brings to mind the clear, hard, smooth, homogenous-looking material that we use for windows or tableware. However, on a deeper level what we call “glass” is actually a more complex material that can contain different chemical properties with wide-ranging distributions.