Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Environmental Analysis

Reader 1

Malkiat S. Johal

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Rights Information

© 2011 Ellen Yang


Due to the potential of oil sorbents for oil spill clean-up, hydrophobic silica-based aerogel thin films have been synthesized and characterized by various methods. Aerogels were prepared using a two-step acid/base sol-gel process and functionalized with trimethylchlorosilane in hexane, followed by drying in ambient conditions. After film deposition by spin-coating, samples were characterized by scanning electron microscopy, nitrogen adsorption analysis (BET surface area = 377.66 m2 /g), and variable-angle spectroscopic ellipsometry (thickness of 287.00 ± 0.85 nm, refractive index of 1.08, porosity of 80.9%). Unlike previous studies with aerogel films, quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation monitoring (QCM-D) was applied to preliminarily measure the oil absorbing capacity of the fabricated aerogels. Upon exposure to hexadecane, aerogel films retained the model oil with an estimated Sauerbrey mass of ~970.6 ng/cm2 . These initial investigations suggest that oil adsorption-desorption studies with hydrophobic aerogel thin films can be further explored with QCM-D.