The effects of drying method on the pore structure of mesoporous silica were studied from the viewpoint of enhancing closed porosity in mesoporous silica. The mesoporous silica was prepared via a sol-gel process using polyethyleneoxide-polypropyleneoxide-polyethyleneoxide (PEO-PPO-PEO) triblock copolymer (Pluronic P123) as the structure-directing template. The closed porosity was evaluated from the apparent mass density of the sample measured by a helium pycnometer. These mesoporous silicas were also characterized by transmission electron microscopy (TEM), thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), and nitrogen adsorption. The drying method was shown to be responsible for the finally templated mesoporous structure of the silica. More rapid drying is more preferable for enhancing the closed porosity of the mesoporous silica. The closed pores were formed by immediate immobilization of copolymer molecular assemblies in the silica matrix due to the instant removal of the solvent and solidification at higher temperatures. The drying method, mainly affecting the drying rate, is highly influential on the finally replicated mesoporous structure in silica. © 2004 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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