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Preparation of silica nanospheres and porous polymer membranes with controlled morphologies via nanophase separation

Jung-Pil Lee, Sinho Choi and Soojin Park*

Author Affiliations

Interdisciplinary School of Green Energy, Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), Ulsan, 689-798, Republic of Korea

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Nanoscale Research Letters 2012, 7:440  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-7-440

Published: 8 August 2012


We successfully synthesized two different structures, silica nanospheres and porous polymer membranes, via nanophase separation, based on a sol–gel process. Silica sol, which was in situ polymerized from tetraorthosilicate, was used as a precursor. Subsequently, it was mixed with a polymer that was used as a matrix component. It was observed that nanophase separation occurred after the mixing of polymer with silica sol and subsequent evaporation of solvents, resulting in organizing various structures, from random network silica structures to silica spheres. In particular, silica nanospheres were produced by manipulating the mixing ratio of polymer to silica sol. The size of silica beads was gradually changed from micro- to nanoscale, depending on the polymer content. At the same time, porous polymer membranes were generated by removing the silica component with hydrofluoric acid. Furthermore, porous carbon membranes were produced using carbon source polymer through the carbonization process.

Phase separation; Silica nanosphere; Porous polymer membrane; Porous carbon