Since the discovery of the mesoporous silica material templated by ionic surfactants and the subsequent development of materials templated by non-ionic surfactants and polymers, for example SBA-15, there has been a continuous research effort towards understanding their formation. In situ methodologies, such as Small Angle X-ray Scattering (SAXS), Small Angle Neutron Scattering (SANS), spectroscopic techniques like NMR and EPR, and ex situ methodologies such as electron microscopy techniques (SEM, TEM and cryo-TEM) are powerful and important tools in the investigation of the mechanism by which these materials form. The need for a fundamental understanding of the systems is of academic concern and of great importance when developing materials for applications. In this tutorial review we aim to give the reader a comprehensive overview on the development of the field over the years and an introduction to the experimental in situ and ex situ techniques that have been used.
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