Smectite-Type clays play a critical role in the trapping of fluids within soil and atmospheric nanoparticles. The hydrodynamics of cation-saturated smectite nanopores are well documented. However, little is known about the influence of small organic compounds. Here we investigate the effects of carbohydrates (glucose and cellobiose), representing an important class of organic compounds, on the hydration and nanopore structures of montmorillonite, a prototypical smectite. To achieve the same amount of adsorbed water, higher relative humidity was required in the presence of the adsorbed carbohydrates than with the clay alone. The decrease in the characteristic micropore water adsorption with the clay-carbohydrate aggregates implied that water adsorption was constrained within the clay nanopore regions. The presence of carbohydrates promoted water retention as a function of gradual decrease in moisture content. Moisture-dependent X-ray diffraction patterns determined that, relative to the mineral alone, greater nanopore sizes were preserved in the presence of the carbohydrates, despite severe dehydration that is expected to induce clay nanopore collapse. Fourier-Transform infrared spectroscopy captured disruption in the population of exchangeable waters within the carbohydrate-populated clay nanopores, with some agreement with the measured water-desorption profiling. These new findings demonstrate that carbohydrates can restructure smectite interlayer nanopores and water trapping dynamics.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films