University of Otago, New Zealand


Te Tari Hua-Ruanuku

Professor A. James (Jim) McQuillan

contact photo
Professor A. James (Jim) McQuillan
Spectroscopy at the solid/solution interface
Tel: (03) 479 7924
Location: Science II, 4n10

Chemistry at wet solid surfaces

The surface chemical behaviour of solids immersed in solutions is poorly understood in spite of its widespread significance in natural and industrial systems.  A molecule at the boundary (adsorbed) between a solid and a liquid has distinct properties which often determine the course of chemical reactions at the interface.  Establishing the nature and reactivity of these adsorbed molecules is important from a fundamental perspective and for the many applications in technology.

We make frequent use of internal reflection infrared spectroscopy to probe the nature of molecules adsorbed on thin films of small solid particles immersed in aqueous solutions.  Infrared (IR) spectroscopy gives a molecular fingerprint which reveals the way a molecule is changed by the interfacial environment.  We have developed sensitive IR spectroscopic methods for determining the strength and pH dependence of molecular adsorption, the pH dependence of surface charge of solids, the influence of light on interfacial reactions, and the nature of adhesion of biological species.  These methods are applicable to a wide range of wet interfacial systems.

2011 Research Group and Projects

  1. Jan Scholz (PhD student)
  2. David Savory (PhD Student)
  3. Suzanne Warring (MSc student)
  4. Casey Davies (BSc(Hons) student)
  5. Rachael Nicoll (Research Assistant)

General Articles

  1. A.J. McQuillan (2002).  From adsorption to bioadhesion. What does in situ infrared spectroscopy reveal?  Chemistry in New Zealand, 66(4), 34–37.
  2. A.J. McQuillan (2001).  Probing solid/solution interfacial chemistry with ATR-IR spectroscopy.  Advanced Materials, 13, 1034–1038.

Recent Publications