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Generalized synthesis of periodic surfactant/inorganic composite materials


THE recent synthesis of silica-based mesoporous materials1,2 by the cooperative assembly of periodic inorganic and surfactant-based structures has attracted great interest because it extends the range of molecular-sieve materials into the very-large-pore regime. If the synthetic approach can be generalized to transition-metal oxide mesostructures, the resulting nanocomposite materials might find applications in electrochromic or solid-electrolyte devices3,4, as high-surface-area redox catalysts5 and as substrates for biochemical separations. We have proposed recently6 that the matching of charge density at the surfactant/inorganic interfaces governs the assembly process; such co-organization of organic and inorganic phases is thought to be a key aspect of biomineralization7. Here we report a generalized approach to the synthesis of periodic mesophases of metal oxides and cationic or anionic surfactants under a range of pH conditions. We suggest that the assembly process is controlled by electrostatic complementarity between the inorganic ions in solution, the charged surfactant head groups and—when these charges both have the same sign—inorganic counterions. We identify a number of different general strategies for obtaining a variety of ordered composite materials.

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Huo, Q., Margolese, D., Ciesla, U. et al. Generalized synthesis of periodic surfactant/inorganic composite materials. Nature 368, 317–321 (1994).

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