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Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


Physics and Astronomy


Surface IR (infrared) modes of crystalline and fumed (amorphous) silica particles, calcined at temperatures up to 1095 degrees C, have been studied by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. The ability of these same particles to lyse cells has been measured by a hemolysis protocol. The untreated crystalline and amorphous materials differ by a factor of 40 in specific surface area, and the intensity per unit mass of the sharp surface silanol band near 3745 cm-1 in the amorphous material is an order of magnitude larger than in the crystalline material. A similar difference is observed in the lysing potential of the two materials. The intensity of the silanol band increases after calcination for both materials, reaching peak values near 500 degrees C, followed by a dramatic drop at higher calcination temperatures, and reaching negligible values for materials calcined near 1100 degrees C. The lysing potential data follow essentially the same pattern for both crystalline and fumed silica. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that the surface silanol groups are involved in cell lysis. Further experiments are suggested to evaluate the relationship between the surface structure of silica particles and their potential cytotoxicity.

Source Citation

Antonini, J. M., McCloud, C. M., & Reasor, M. J. (1994). Acute silica toxicity: attenuation by amiodarone-induced pulmonary phospholipidosis. Environmental Health Perspectives, 102(4), 372–378.



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