Controlling the shape and alignment of mesopores by confinement in colloidal crystals: Designer pathways to silica monoliths with hierarchical porosity

Fan Li, Zhiyong Wang, Nicholas S. Ergang, Colin A. Fyfe, Andreas Stein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations

Abstract

Monolithic pieces of hierarchically structured silica, containing both periodic macropores and mesopores with well-controlled architecture, are synthesized by dual templating methods. Colloidal crystal templating with close-packed arrays of poly(methyl methacrylate) spheres yields regular, highly interconnected macropores a few hundred nanometers in diameter, and templating with nonionic surfactants produces mesoporosity (2.5-5.1 nm pore diameters) in the macropore walls. Several distinct mesostructures can be achieved within the silica skeleton, depending on the choice of surfactant, co-surfactant, and processing conditions. In the three-dimensional (3D) confinement of the colloidal crystal template, wormlike channels, cubic (Pm3n), or two-dimensional (2D) hexagonal (P6mm) mesostructures are produced with the surfactant Brij 56 (C16H33(OCH2CH2)nOH (n ∼ 10) and dodecane as cosurfactant. In the 2D hexagonal structure, channels are oriented perpendicular to the polymer spheres, thereby connecting adjacent macropores through the silica walls. This orientation contrasts with channel alignment parallel to latex spheres when the polymeric surfactant Pluronic P123 (EO20PO70EO20) is used. On the basis of high-resolution 3D transmission electron microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, small-angle X-ray scattering, and nitrogen sorption measurements, structural and textural properties of the monoliths are described in detail as a function of the synthesis parameters. The control over the mesoarchitecture of these silica-surfactant systems in 3D confinement is explained by considering the relative dimensions of the mesostructures with respect to the interstitial space in the latex template, interfacial interactions, entropic effects, and structural frustration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3996-4004
Number of pages9
JournalLangmuir
Volume23
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 27 2007

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