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Mesoporous Membranes Templated by a Polymeric Bicontinuous Microemulsion

Tim Lodge, Frank Bates, and their co-advised student Ning Zhou have demonstrated a new and versatile route to porous materials, with typical channel dimensions between 50 and 200 nanometers. This work has just appeared in Nano Letters 6, 2354-2357 (2006).

In this work a bicontinuous microemulsion was prepared from a mixture of polystyrene, polyisoprene, and a poly(styrene-b-isoprene) diblock copolymer surfactant. At room temperature the glassy polystyrene maintained the structure, while gaseous sulfur chloride was used to cross-link the polyisoprene domains. The polystyrene phase was then removed simply by solvent extraction. The porosity was characterized by SAXS and by BET analysis. After backfilling the pores with an ionic liquid, the resulting ionic conductivity proved the continuity of the pore structure through a 1 mm thick sample. A scanning electron micrograph of the material is shown in the figure.

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