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Journal of Nanomaterials
Volume 2014, Article ID 932160, 8 pages
Research Article

Nanostructured Mesoporous Silica Wires with Intrawire Lamellae via Evaporation-Induced Self-Assembly in Space-Confined Channels

1Energy and Transportation Science Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN 37831-6181, USA
2The Materials Science and Engineering Program, Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH 45221-0072, USA
3University of South Carolina, 1212 Greene Street, Columbia, SC 29208, USA

Received 24 January 2014; Accepted 22 March 2014; Published 6 April 2014

Academic Editor: Sayan Bhattacharyya

Copyright © 2014 Michael Z. Hu et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Evaporation-induced self-assembly (EISA) of silica sol-gel ethanol-water solution mixtures with block-copolymer were studied inside uniform micro/nano-channels. Nanostructured mesoporous silica wires, with various intrawire self-assembly structures including lamellae, were prepared via EISA process but in space-confined channels with the diameter ranging from 50 nm to 200 nm. Membranes made of anodized aluminum oxide (AAO) and track-etched polycarbonate (EPC) were utilized as the arrays of space-confined channels (i.e., 50, 100, and 200 nm EPC and 200 nm AAO) for infiltration and drying of mixture solutions; these substrate membranes were submerged in mixture solutions consisting of a silica precursor, a structure-directing agent, ethanol, and water. After the substrate channels were filled with the solution under vacuum impregnation, the membrane was removed from the solution and dried in air. The silica precursor used was tetraethyl othosilicate (TEOS), and the structure-directing agent employed was triblock copolymer Pluronic-123 (P123). It was found that the formation of the mesoporous nanostructures in silica wires within uniform channels were significantly affected by the synthesis conditions including (1) preassemble TEOS aging time, (2) the evaporation rate during the vacuum impregnation, and (3) the air-dry temperature. The obtained intrawire structures, including 2D hexagonal rods and lamellae, were studied by scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM). A steric hindrance effect seems to explain well the observed polymer-silica mesophase formation tailored by TEOS aging time. The evaporation effect, air-drying effect, and AAO versus EPC substrate effect on the mesoporous structure of the formed silica wires were also presented and discussed.