By utilizing surfactant aggregates as supramolecular templates, mesoporous and mesostructured silicas with highly ordered structures became available. The resulting mesoporous silicas are promising candidates to host various photo- and electro-active species along with catalytically active species, due to their large and controllable pore sizes, highly ordered pore arrangements with low dimensional geometries, and reactive surfaces. We have developed the rapid solvent evaporation method, which is a modified sol-gel process, for synthesizing the mesostructured silica-surfactant films as well as the mesoporous silica films. Supported thin films, self-standing films and bubbles of mesoporous silicas have been synthesized by the rapid solvent evaporation method. The microstructures of the films have also been successfully controlled by changing the synthetic conditions. Taking advantage of the ease of synthetic operation and the transparency and homogeneity of the resulting materials, we have been interested in the introduction of functional units into the mesostructured materials. This paper reports the synthesis of transparent films of titanium- and aluminum-containing nanoporous silicas to modify the surface properties (such as adsorptive and catalytic) of nanoporous silicas. The incorporation of Al led to the formation of cation exchange or acidic sites on the mesopore surface, as revealed by the cationic dye adsorption experiments. The photocatalytic reactions of the Ti-containing nanoporous silica films were also examined.
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