Towards Quantifying the Chemical Sensitivity of Nuclear Spin Surface Relaxivity in Mesoporous Media

26 March 2024, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


Low-field nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) relaxation is a promising non-invasive technique for characterizing solid-liquid interactions within functional porous materials. However, the ability of the solid-liquid interface to enhance adsorbate relaxation rates, known as the surface relaxivity, in the case of different solvents and reagents involved in various chemical processes has yet to be evaluated in a quantitative manner. In this study, we systematically explore the surface relaxation characteristics of ten liquid adsorbates (cyclohexane, acetone, water, and seven alcohols, including ethylene glycol) confined within mesoporous silicas with pore sizes between 6 nm and 50 nm using low-field (12.7 MHz) two-dimensional 1H T1 – T2 relaxation measurements. Functional group specific relaxation phenomena associated with the alkyl and hydroxyl groups of the confined alcohols are clearly distinguished; we report the dependence of both longitudinal (T1) and transverse (T2) relaxation rates of these 1H-bearing moieties on pore surface-to-volume ratio, facilitating the quantification and assignment of surface relaxivity values to specific functional groups within the same adsorbate molecule for the first time. We further demonstrate that alkyl group transverse surface relaxivities correlate strongly with the alkyl/hydroxyl ratio of the adsorbates assessed, providing evidence for a simple, quantitative relationship between surface relaxivity and interfacial chemistry. Overall, our observations highlight potential pitfalls in the application of NMR relaxation for the evaluation of pore size distributions using hydroxylated probe molecules, and provide motivation for the exploration of nuclear spin relaxation measurements as a route to adsorbate identity within functional porous materials.


porous materials
NMR relaxation
surface relaxivity

Supplementary materials

Supporting Information
Supplementary nitrogen isotherm analysis; Supplementary methods; Supplementary surface relaxation theory; Supplementary results; Supplementary references


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