Synthesis and properties of COK‐12 large‐pore mesocellular silica foam
Large, ink-bottle-shaped pores in mesocellular foams (MCFs) are desired for various applications requiring enhanced mass transfer or the immobilization of larger compounds. Hence, the cylindrical pores of COK-12, an ordered mesoporous silica structurally comparable to SBA-15 but synthesized at room-temperature at quasi-neutral pH, are chemically swollen into ink-bottle pores. Therefore, p-xylene is used as a more sustainable swelling agent compared to popular alternatives. Its high boiling point allows for an additional thermal aging step to amplify the mesostructure enlargement without needing additional chemicals. For COK-12, the MCFs obtained at room temperature reach an unprecedented plateau for the modal mesopore cell and window diameter of 19.9 and 5.5 nm, respectively, with an underlying broad pore size distribution and distorted hexagonal lattice up to 14.5 nm, involving hexagonal and spherical structures. The combined chemical and thermal swelling resulted in the selective enlargement of the window diameter to more than 200% and a slightly increased cell diameter, pore size distribution, and hexagonal lattice distortion in comparison to the room temperature synthesis. Such materials are thought to be promising alternatives to SBA-15-based MCFs, often utilizing toxic catalysts during synthesis. The presented results pave the way for enhanced adsorptive, catalytic, and drug delivery performances for COK-12-based materials.
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Published in: Nano Select, 10.1002/nano.202200223, Wiley