First tri-continuous mesoporous Silica complex structure developed in Singapore

Apr 05, 2009

Singapore's Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) has developed the first tri-continuous mesoporous material using a unique surfactant template. This completely new porous structure previously been predicted only mathematically (see reference below).

In the current Nature Chemistry (see reference below), the IBN scientists report that this novel material, named IBN-9 after the research institute, is the first hexagonal nanoscale construct with 3 unconnected interwoven channels. It is by far the most complex mesoporous nanostructure to have been synthesized in real-life and represents a new class of mesoporous materials, which consist of pores of 2-50 nanometers in size.

Mesoporous silica has well-defined nanochannel structures that are formed over templates via self-assembly processes. Mesoporous silica materials have huge surface areas, making them ideal for use as catalysts to facilitate chemical reactions. Their uniform nanometersized pores allow them to separate molecules by size difference. Their pores may also be used to trap drug molecules for controlled drug release. Therefore, the ability to tailor the pore structure of mesoporous material is of fundamental importance for various chemical and biological applications.

"IBN-9 demonstrates that it is possible to create three interwoven but independent pore channel systems along with a unique nano-fiber morphology," said Jackie Y. Ying, Ph.D., who led this research.

"Such a mesostructure makes distinct diffusion rates in different directions possible. This property would be very attractive for gas separation and drug delivery systems" added Dr. Ying, Executive Director of IBN, which is part of Singapore's A*STAR (Agency for Science, Technology and Research).

There has been tremendous interest about tailoring mesoporous materials with unique pore structures and pore sizes. The most complex of these were the bi-continuous structures, which contain two unconnected interwoven channels. These materials are synthesized via self-assembly of silica around surfactant templates.

IBN researchers successfully synthesized the first tri-continuous mesoporous structure by using a specially designed surfactant template, N,N-dimethyl-L-phenylalanine. This surfactant has a unique tunable head-group as well as a long hydrocarbon tail that has variable levels of hydrophobic (water-repellent) qualities. By systematically changing the synthesis conditions using this surfactant, IBN researchers are able to achieve structures with increasing mean curvatures from the bi-continuous cubic IBN-6 to the tri-continuous 3D hexagonal IBN-9, and finally to the 2D hexagonal IBN-10. The structural complexity of IBN-9 and its sister materials opens the possibility of creating even more complex multi-continuous mesostructures.

More information:

The research described in this news release is published in the following paper: Y. Han, D. Zhang, L. L. Chng, J. Sun, L, Zhao, X. Zou and J. Y. Ying, "A Tri-Continuous Mesoporous Material, IBN-9, with a Silica Pore Wall Following a Hexagonal Minimal Surface," Nature Chemistry (2009).

The mathematical prediction mentioned in the first paragraph was published in this paper: S. T. Hyde and G. E. Schröder, "Novel Surfactant Mesostructural Topologies: Between Lamellae and Columnar (Hexagonal) Forms," Current Opinion in Colloid and Interface Science, 8 (2003) 5-14.

Source: Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore

Explore further: Graphene and diamonds prove a slippery combination

Related Stories

IBN Pioneers Breakthrough Method in Nanoparticle Synthesis

Mar 10, 2005

The Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) has developed a novel method to simultaneously control the size and morphology of nanoparticles, which can be used in pharmaceutical synthesis and novel biomedical ...

Reversible 3-D cell culture gel invented

Sep 28, 2008

Singapore's Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN), which celebrates its fifth anniversary this year, has invented a unique user-friendly gel that can liquefy on demand, with the potential to revolutionize three-dimensional ...

New material could be used in drug delivery system

Dec 04, 2004

University of Toronto researchers have developed a new class of hybrid materials that could one day move drug delivery systems to the molecular level. The paper published in the Nov. 26 issue of Science outlines how a U ...

New nano-material research a 'pore' excuse for engineering

Mar 21, 2006

A new study by chemists and engineers at the University of Toronto describes a nanoscale material they've created that could help satisfy society's never-ending hunger for smaller digital devices and cellphones, and could ...

Smart Nanocarriers to Combat Tumors

Apr 26, 2005

A ‘smart’ nanocarrier technology developed by a team of researchers at the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) is set to vastly improve the way cancer patients are treated.

Miniature lab can detect deadly bird flu virus in 30 minutes

Sep 23, 2007

Researchers at the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN), Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB) and Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) have successfully developed a miniaturized device that can be ...

Recommended for you

Graphene and diamonds prove a slippery combination

May 25, 2015

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory have found a way to use tiny diamonds and graphene to give friction the slip, creating a new material combination that demonstrates ...

Artificial muscles get graphene boost

May 22, 2015

Researchers in South Korea have developed an electrode consisting of a single-atom-thick layer of carbon to help make more durable artificial muscles.

How to make continuous rolls of graphene

May 21, 2015

Graphene is a material with a host of potential applications, including in flexible light sources, solar panels that could be integrated into windows, and membranes to desalinate and purify water. But all ...

Carbon nanothreads from compressed benzene

May 20, 2015

A new carbon nanomaterial – the thinnest possible one-dimensional thread that still retains a diamond-like structure – was created by the controlled, slow compression and decompression of benzene. The ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.