Langmuir, 2019, vol 35, 11, pp. 4068-4076
The phosphonic acid moiety is commonly used as an anchoring group for the surface modification of imogolite. However, the impact of the reaction on its structure has never been clearly analyzed before. We study the reaction of imogolite and decylphosphonic acid by combining infrared spectroscopy, X-ray scattering, scanning electron microscopy, transmission electron microscopy, and solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Instead of a surface functionalization, we observe the formation of a lamellar phase interconnected with imogolite bundles. Although we find no evidence for grafted imogolite tubes, we observe the expected dispersion characteristics and stabilization of water in toluene emulsions described in the literature. Based on the surface chemistry of imogolite, we propose an explanation for the observed reactivity and link the structural features of the obtained composite material to its dispersibility in toluene and its observed properties at the toluene–water interface.