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Halloysite nanotubes as nanoreactors for heterogeneous micellar catalysis


Hypothesis: Electrostatic attractions between the anionic head group of sodium alkylsulphates and the positively charged inner surface of halloysite nanotubes (HNTs) drive to the formation of tubular inorganic micelles, which might be employed as nanoreactors for the confinement of non polar compounds in aqueous media. On this basis, sodium alkylsulphates/halloysite hybrids could be efficient nanocatalysts for organic reactions occurring in water. Experiments: Sodium decylsulphate (NaDeS) and sodium dodecylsulphate (NaDS) were selected for the functionalization of the halloysite cavity. The composition, the structure and the surface charge properties of the hybrid nanotubes were determined. The actual formation of inorganic micelles was explored by studying the microviscosity and polarity characteristics of the surfactant modified nanotubes through fluorescence spectroscopy experiments using DiPyme as probe. The performances of the sodium alkylsulphates/halloysite composites as micellar catalysts for the Belousov-Zhabotinsky (BZ) reaction were investigated. Findings: The halloysite functionalization with sodium alkylsulphates generated the formation of hydrophobic microdomains with an enhanced microviscosity. Compared to the surfactant conventional micelles, the functionalized nanotubes induced larger enhancements on the rate constant of the BZ reaction. This is the first report on the surfactant/halloysite hybrids showing their efficiencies as reusable nanocatalysts, which are dependent on their peculiar microviscosity and polarity properties.