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Ordered Mesoporous Crystalline γ-Al2O3 with Variable Architecture and Porosity from a Single Hard Template

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journal contribution
posted on 01.09.2010 by Zhangxiong Wu, Qiang Li, Dan Feng, Paul A. Webley, Dongyuan Zhao
In this paper, an efficient route is developed for controllable synthesis of ordered mesoporous alumina (OMA) materials with variable pore architectures and high mesoporosity, as well as crystalline framework. The route is based on the nanocasting pathway with bimodal mesoporous carbon as the hard template. In contrast to conventional reports, we first realize the possibility of creating two ordered mesopore architectures by using a single carbon hard template obtained from organic−organic self-assembly, which is also the first time such carbon materials are adopted to replicate ordered mesoporous materials. The mesopore architecture and surface property of the carbon template are rationally designed in order to obtain ordered alumina mesostructures. We found that the key factors rely on the unique bimodal mesopore architecture and surface functionalization of the carbon hard template. Namely, the bimodal mesopores (2.3 and 5.9 nm) and the surface functionalities make it possible to selectively load alumina into the small mesopores dominantly and/or with a layer of alumina coated on the inner surface of the large primary mesopores with different thicknesses until full loading is achieved. Thus, OMA materials with variable pore architectures (similar and reverse mesostructures relative to the carbon template) and controllable mesoporosity in a wide range are achieved. Meanwhile, in situ ammonia hydrolysis for conversion of the metal precursor to its hydroxide is helpful for easy crystallization (as low as ∼500 °C). Well-crystallized alumina frameworks composed of γ-Al2O3 nanocrystals with sizes of 6−7 nm are obtained after burning out the carbon template at 600 °C, which is advantageous over soft-templated aluminas. The effects of synthesis factors are demonstrated and discussed relative to control experiments. Furthermore, our method is versatile enough to be used for general synthesis of other important but difficult-to-synthesize mesoporous metal oxides, such as magnesium oxide. We believe that the fundamentals in this research will provide new insights for rational synthesis of ordered mesoporous materials.