The electrical, optical, and (bio)chemical properties of porous Si have attracted considerable interest for battery, solar cell, display, sensor, biomedical, and other applications. Free-standing monolithic Si aerogels have been generated for the first time via low-temperature magnesiothermic reduction of SiO2 aerogels. Under appropriate conditions, the reaction of Mg gas with SiO2 produced a co-continuous mixture of predominantly MgO and Si. Selective MgO dissolution then yielded nanocrystalline, porous, photoluminescent Si aerogels with a high degree of porosity (97.3 vol%) and a high specific surface area (615 m2 g−1).
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