Design and functionality of colloidal-crystal-templated materials—chemical applications of inverse opals†
Templating with colloidal crystals composed of monodisperse spheres is a convenient chemical method to obtain porous materials with well-ordered periodicity and interconnected pore systems. The three-dimensionally ordered macroporous (3DOM) products or inverse opals are of interest for numerous applications, both for the optical properties related to structural color of these photonic crystal materials and because of their bicontinuous nanostructure, i.e., a continuous nanostructured skeleton with large interfacial area and a three-dimensionally interconnected pore system with low tortuosity. This review outlines various synthetic methods used to control the morphology of 3DOM materials with different compositions. It highlights aspects of the choice of colloidal particles, assembly of the colloidal crystal template, infiltration and processing, template removal, and other necessary modifications to enhance the functionality of the materials. It also considers syntheses within the confinement of 3DOM materials and summarizes characterization methods that are particularly useful in the analysis of 3DOM materials. The review then discusses chemical applications of 3DOM materials, namely sorption and controlled release, optical and electrochemical sensors, solar cells, lithium ion batteries, supercapacitors, fuel cells, and environmental and chemical fuel catalysis. A focus is on structural features and materials properties that enable these applications.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Chemistry of functional nanomaterials