The use of lyotropic liquid crystal phases is a promising tool in tailoring
the porous structure of inorganic gels. In this work, we examine the effect
of hexagonal liquid crystal phases produced with quaternary ammonium
surfactants on the textural ordering of silica gels.
The sol-gel polymerization of the silicon alkoxide precursor
(tetramethoxysilane) is followed by 29Si NMR and rheological
measurements. The structural evolution of the material from the starting sol
to the thermally treated gel is studied using low angle X-ray diffraction.
The textural characteristics of the gels are correlated with the nature of
the surfactant molecules.