Silatrane Anchors for Metal Oxide Surfaces: Optimization for Potential Photocatalytic and Electrocatalytic Applications

Kelly L. Materna, Jianbing Jiang, Robert H. Crabtree, Gary W. Brudvig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Silatrane surface anchors are protected siloxanes that are known to bond firmly (from pH 2-11) to metal oxide electrodes under heating. However, these conditions are not always compatible with the other functionality present. A silatrane-containing porphyrin molecule and a silatrane-containing ruthenium complex have now been designed, synthesized and optimized conditions have been identified for surface binding. Two mild, roomerature surface binding methods were explored: binding with or without an acidic pretreatment; these methods were compared to the traditional, harsher binding conditions involving strong heating. We find that a preacidified electrode gave comparable surface loadings at room temperature compared to sensitization by using the previous strong heating method. This was also true on TiO 2 , SnO 2 , and nanoITO electrodes and thus may be generalizable. The new, milder binding methods also resulted in excellent aqueous and electrochemical stability from pH 2-11. Using a water-insoluble porphyrin with a silatrane anchor further increased the aqueous stability of the deposit, aided by the insolubility of the porphyrin. Finally, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) data confirmed for the first time that the triethanolamine released from the silatrane on deprotection/binding in turn binds to TiO 2 , SnO 2 , and nanoITO electrodes. This undesired triethanolamine deposit was easily removed from the surface by electrochemical voltage cycling or with an aqueous acidic wash for 1 h.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5602-5609
Number of pages8
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Feb 13 2019


  • metal oxides
  • silatranes
  • solar energy
  • surface anchors
  • tin oxide
  • titanium dioxide
  • water splitting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)

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