Processing can be controlled to produce a family of mesoporous silica films with either disordered, lamellar, hexagonal, or cubic pore distributions[l]. These films, formed by surfactant-templated synthesis and exhibiting a unimodal pore size, promise potential use as inorganic membranes, catalysts, and optically-based sensors[l,2]. The mesoporous films can be formed from initially homogeneous silica sols by a continuous, surfactant-templated process, which relies upon solvent evaporation during the sol-gel dip-coating process. Films of 100-500 nm thick are formed within seconds in a continuous coating operation. The microstructure of the films is dependent upon the cationic surfactant concentration CTAB (CH3(CH2)15N+(CH3)3Br-) and the dip-coating rate. Several films, processed under differing conditions, were investigated by TEM to characterize pore size, structure, and orientation.
Figures 1 a & b show the plan view and cross-sectional microstructure of a 2-d hexagonal mesoporous silica film deposited on silicon; the sample was calcined at 400 °C for 3 hours in air. The images were obtained on a Philips CM30 TEM, operated at 300 kV.