Journal of the American Chemical Society, Vol.127, No.6, 1924-1932, 2005
Controlled polymerization in mesoporous silica toward the design of organic-inorganic composite nanoporous materials
Free-radical polymerization inside mesoporous silica has been investigated in order to open a route to functional polymer-silica composite materials with well-defined mesoporosity. Various vinyl monomers, such as styrene, chloromethyl styrene, 2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate, and methacrylic acid, were polymerized after impregnation into mesoporous silicas with various structures, which were synthesized using polyalkylene oxide-type block copolymers. The location of the polymers was systematically controlled with detailed structures of the silica framework and the polymerization conditions. Particularly noteworthy is the polymer-silica composite structure obtained by in situ polymerization after the selective adsorption of monomers as a uniform film on silica walls. The analysis of XRD data and the N-2 adsorption isotherms indicates the formation of uniform polymer nanocoating. The resultant polymer-silica composite materials can easily be post-functionalized to incorporate diverse functional groups in high density, due to the open porous structure allowing facile access for the chemical reagent. The fundamental characteristics of the composite materials are substantiated by testing the biomolecule's adsorption capacity and catalytic reactivity. Depending on the structure and composition of polymers, the resultant polymer-silica composite materials exhibit notably distinct adsorption properties toward bionnolecules, such as proteins. Furthermore, it is demonstrated that the nanocoatings of polymers deposited on the mesopore walls have remarkably enhanced catalytic activity and selectivity, as compared to that of bulk polymer resins. We believe that, due to facile functionalization and attractive textural properties, the mesoporous polymer-silica composite materials are very useful for applications, such as adsorption, separation, host-guest complexes, and catalysis.