Nature Chemistry Published online: 6 April 2009 | doi:10.1038/nchem.166
A tri-continuous mesoporous material with a silica pore wall following a hexagonal minimal surface
Yu Han1,4,5, Daliang Zhang2,3,5, Leng Leng Chng1, Junliang Sun2, Lan Zhao1, Xiaodong Zou2 & Jackie Y. Ying1
Ordered porous materials with unique pore structures and pore sizes in the mesoporous range (2–50 nm) have many applications in catalysis, separation and drug delivery. Extensive research has resulted in mesoporous materials with one-dimensional, cage-like and bi-continuous pore structures. Three families of bi-continuous mesoporous materials have been made, with two interwoven but unconnected channels, corresponding to the liquid crystal phases used as templates. Here we report a three-dimensional hexagonal mesoporous silica, IBN-9, with a tri-continuous pore structure that is synthesized using a specially designed cationic surfactant template. IBN-9 consists of three identical continuous interpenetrating channels, which are separated by a silica wall that follows a hexagonal minimal surface. Such a tri-continuous mesostructure was predicted mathematically, but until now has not been observed in real materials.