Liming Tang and colleagues from Tsinghua University in China, have prepared functional silica micro-tube networks (MTN) using an organogel as a template and a silane-based precursor, via a simple procedure.
g-aminopropyltriethoxysilane (APS) was reacted with N’N-methylenediacrylamide on the surface of the gel fibers via a Michael addition. As more APS was deposited on the fibers and subsequently participated in the sol-gel reaction, a silica layer was formed. Following extraction the micro-tubes were obtained.
This method is cheap and easy method and is also suitable for further modification and functionalization of the MTNs. The low cost approach also makes the materials appealing for practical applications in molecular imprinting, catalysis or micro-reactor chemistry.
The motivation for Tang and his team was to develop a facile approach to easily functionalise traditional organogels, due to the applications of organogels being restricted or undeveloped in many areas.
Tang hopes that other inorganic materials with microtube or nanotube networks can be fabricated via similar routes. The next challenge is to ‘accurately control the microscopic structure of the microtube networks and the distribution of the functional groups on the tubes,’ said Tang.