Controlled Silica Synthesis Inspired by Diatom Silicon Biomineralization
Silica becomes increasingly used in chemical, pharmaceutical, and (nano)technological processes, resulting in an increased demand for well-defined silicas and silica-based materials. The production of highly structured silica from cheap starting materials and under ambient conditions, which is a target for many researchers, is already realized in the formation of diatom biosilica, producing highly hierarchical ordered meso- and macropores silica structures. This notion formed the starting point in our integrative biomolecular and biomimetic study on diatom silicon biomineralization in which we have analyzed silica transformations and structure-direction in polymer-mediated silica syntheses using a combination of (ultra)small-angle X-ray scattering and (cryo)electron microscopy. Using bio-analogous reaction conditions and reagents, such as waterglass and (combinations of) polyethylene oxide (PEO) based polymers, we demonstrate in this review the synthesis of tailor- made mesoporous silicas in which we can, as in biosilica synthesis, control the morphological features of the resulting materials on the nanometer level as well as on the micrometer level.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2005-01-01
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