Polymerization within Organosilicas

Polymerization within Organosilicas

Author: David Smith

Confined polymerization within nanospaces enables fabrication of functional materials with control over nano- and microstructure and morphology. The use of periodic mesoporous organosilicas (PMOs) to template polymerization allows the transfer of the host material’s well-defined regular mesostructure from one material to another. Such structures can incorporate a vast diversity of organic moieties in PMO frameworks, enabling preparation of materials for diverse applications.

Piero Sozzani and colleagues, University of Milano Bicocca, Italy, have exploited the nanochannels of mesoporous p-phenylenesilicas to fabricate nanostructured materials from rigid polymer and carbon nanofibers. Polymerization of acrylonitrile forms a hierarchically ordered nanocomposite in which polyacrylonitrile (PAN) chains are aligned in each hexagonal mesochannel to form a honeycomb structure confining nanometric PAN bundles.

Thermal treatment under non-oxidative conditions transforms the confined PAN and host organic moieties into semi-conducting carbon nanofibers reinforcing a silica/condensed polyaromatic framework nanocomposite. This could pave the way for the construction of fine-tuned electronic and light-harvesting materials.


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