In this study, perfluorinated phosphonic acid modifications were utilized to modify zinc oxide (ZnO) nanoparticles because they create a more stable surface due to the electronegativity of the perfluoro head group. Specifically, 12-pentafluorophenoxydodecylphosphonic acid, 2,3,4,5,6-pentafluorobenzylphosphonic acid, and (1H,1H,2H,2H-perfluorododecyl)phosphonic acid have been used to form thin films on the nanoparticle surfaces. The modified nanoparticles were then characterized using infrared spectroscopy, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, and solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Dynamic light scattering and scanning electron microscopy-energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy were utilized to determine the particle size of the nanoparticles before and after modification, and to analyze the film coverage on the ZnO surfaces, respectively. Zeta potential measurements were obtained to determine the stability of the ZnO nanoparticles. It was shown that the surface charge increased as the alkyl chain length increases. This study shows that modifying the ZnO nanoparticles with perfluorinated groups increases the stability of the phosphonic acids adsorbed on the surfaces. Thermogravimetric analysis was used to distinguish between chemically and physically bound films on the modified nanoparticles. The higher weight loss for 12-pentafluorophenoxydodecylphosphonic acid and (1H,1H,2H,2H-perfluorododecyl)phosphonic acid modifications corresponds to a higher surface concentration of the modifications, and, ideally, higher surface coverage. While previous studies have shown how phosphonic acids interact with the surfaces of ZnO, the aim of this study was to understand how the perfluorinated groups can tune the surface properties of the nanoparticles.
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