Mesoporous silicas, especially those exhibiting ordered pore systems and uniform pore diameters, have shown great potential for sensing applications in recent years. Morphological control grants them versatility in the method of deployment whether as bulk powders, monoliths, thin films, or embedded in coatings. High surface areas and pore sizes greater than 2 nm make them effective as adsorbent coatings for humidity sensors. The pore networks also provide the potential for immobilization of enzymes within the materials. Functionalization of materials by silane grafting or through co-condensation of silicate precursors can be used to provide mesoporous materials with a variety of fluorescent probes as well as surface properties that aid in selective detection of specific analytes. This review will illustrate how mesoporous silicas have been applied to sensing changes in relative humidity, changes in pH, metal cations, toxic industrial compounds, volatile organic compounds, small molecules and ions, nitroenergetic compounds, and biologically relevant molecules.
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