Templating of Mesoporous Molecular Sieves by Nonionic Polyethylene Oxide Surfactants

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Science  01 Sep 1995:
Vol. 269, Issue 5228, pp. 1242-1244
DOI: 10.1126/science.269.5228.1242


Mesoporous silica molecular sieves have been prepared by the hydrolysis of tetraethylorthosilicate in the presence of low-cost, nontoxic, and biodegradable polyethylene oxide (PEO) surfactants, which act as the structure-directing (templating) agents. This nonionic, surfactant-neutral, inorganic-precursor templating pathway to mesostructures uses hydrogen bonding interactions between the hydrophilic surfaces of flexible rod- or worm-like micelles and Si(OC2H5)4-x(OH)x hydrolysis products to assemble an inorganic oxide framework. Disordered channel structures with uniform diameters ranging from 2.0 to 5.8 nanometers have been obtained by varying the size and structure of the surfactant molecules. Metal-substituted silica and pure alumina mesostructures have also been prepared by the hydrolysis of the corresponding alkoxides in the presence of PEO surfactants. These results suggest that nonionic templating may provide a general pathway for the preparation of mesoporous oxides.