Abstract by Megan Asplund
Chemistry and Biochemistry
Pair Distribution Function Study of Silica Dopant Incorporation in Al2O3
Dopants are a compelling topic in materials chemistry, as their inclusion can significantly change the properties of a material even when in small concentrations. It is hypothesized that their impact is largely determined by how they are incorporated into material’s structure. In Al2O3, incorporation patterns of large dopants such as lanthanum have been determined, whereas the structural roles of smaller dopants, such as SiO2 remain unknown. Similarities in size between aluminum and silicon atoms make them essentially indistinguishable by x-ray diffraction techniques. Pair Distribution Function (PDF) analysis, which uses weakly scattered light to determine low order structures, has been successfully used to examine transition pathways in the calcination of boehmite (AlO(OH)) to Al2O3. The disorder of silica doped Al2O3 makes this a promising technique in elucidating dopant incorporation.