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An eco-friendly, tunable and scalable method for producing porous functional nanomaterials designed using molecular interactions

Manning, Joseph R. H. and Yip, Thomas W. S. and Centi, Alessia and Jorge, Miguel and Patwardhan, Siddharth V. (2017) An eco-friendly, tunable and scalable method for producing porous functional nanomaterials designed using molecular interactions. ChemSusChem, 10 (8). 1683–1691. ISSN 1864-564X

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Abstract

Despite significant improvements in the synthesis of templated silica materials, post-synthesis purification remains highly expensive and renders the materials industrially unviable. In this study we address this issue for porous bioinspired silica, developing a rapid room-temperature solution method for complete extraction of organic additives. Using elemental analysis and N2 and CO2 adsorption, we demonstrate the ability to both purify and controllably tailor the composition, porosity and surface chemistry of bioinspired silica in a single step. For the first time we have modelled the extraction using molecular dynamics, revealing the removal mechanism is dominated by surface-charge interactions. We extend this to other additive chemistry, leading to a wider applicability of the method to other materials. Finally we estimate the environmental benefits of our new method compared with previous purification techniques, demonstrating significant improvements in sustainability.