Hierarchically porous silica prepared from ionic liquid and polymeric bicontinuous microemulsion templates

Brad H. Jones, Timothy P. Lodge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Polymeric bicontinuous microemulsions (BμE) are unique disordered morphologies found in well-designed ternary blends of two immiscible homopolymers and a diblock copolymer surfactant. By crystallization or vitrification of one component and selective extraction of another, polymeric BμEs are efficient precursors to nanoporous materials having three-dimensionally continuous, ∼100 nm pores. Here, nanoporous polyethylene (PE) derived from a polymeric BμE is used as a rigid template, inside which a so-called silica ionogel is synthesized. The solvent used is a room temperature ionic liquid (RTIL), and is incorporated into the silica product, yielding a disordered, bicontinuous arrangement of discrete silica and RTIL networks with ∼10 nm periodicity. Because of the confinement provided by the PE template, the ionogel and PE are also arranged in a disordered, bicontinuous manner with ∼100 nm periodicity. Subsequent selective extraction of the PE template by a suitable solvent generates a three-dimensionally continuous network of macropores in the ionogel. Selective extraction of the RTIL further generates a three-dimensionally continuous network of mesopores within the macropore walls. The final silica product thus contains two bicontinuous pore structures: larger macropores interconnected by smaller mesopores differing in size by over an order of magnitude. This novel, hierarchically porous material simultaneously possesses high internal surface area and a large pore framework required by advanced applications in catalysis, sensors, and purification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4824-4831
Number of pages8
JournalChemistry of Materials
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 8 2011


  • Nanoporous polyethylene
  • bicontinuous microemulsion
  • hierarchically porous
  • ionic liquid
  • ionogel
  • macroporous
  • mesoporous
  • nanocasting
  • silica
  • template


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