Controlling morphology and porosity to improve performance of molecularly imprinted sol–gel silica
The wealth of molecular precursors for organic and inorganic polymers has resulted in an incredible volume of molecular imprinting literature. The vast majority of reports deal with organic polymer systems, and molecular imprinting in silica can still be considered a small niche in the field. In this review, we present key concepts of molecular imprinting, sol–gel processing, and the synthesis of templated mesoporous silica. We take a small fraction of the literature and use it to understand the ways in which molecular imprinting in siliceous materials of controlled morphology has achieved success in the past fifteen years. Using selected case studies rather than a comprehensive review of the entire field, our goal is to illustrate the key aspects of imprinted silica-based materials as demonstrated by judiciously controlled systems, looking first at control on the micrometre scale in bulk phase materials, and then on the nanometre scale in templated mesoporous materials.