Recent advancements in controlling the surface properties and particle morphology of the structurally defined mesoporous silica materials with high surface area (>700 m2 g−1) and pore volume (>1 cm3 g−1) have significantly enhanced their biocompatibility. Various methods have been developed for the functionalization of both the internal pore and exterior particle surfaces of these silicates with a tunable pore diameter ranging from 2 to 30 nm and a narrow pore size distribution. Herein, we review the recent research progress on the design of functional mesoporous silica materials for stimuli-responsive controlled release delivery of pharmaceutical drugs, genes, and other chemicals. Furthermore, the recent breakthroughs in utilizing these nanoscale porous materials as sensors for selective detections of various neurotransmitters and biological molecules are summarized.
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