A solvent-free, one-step synthesis of sulfonic acid group-functionalized mesoporous organosilica with ultra-high acid concentrations and excellent catalytic activities†
We demonstrate herein a novel solvent-free technique for the synthesis of sulfonic acid group-functionalized mesoporous organosilica, which was achieved from the self-assembly of a block copolymer template using mercaptopropyltrimethoxysilane (MPTS) and tetramethoxysilane (TMOS) under melting conditions without using additional solvents and subsequent condensation at high temperature (up to 140 °C). The resultant samples were designated as SMS-xs, where x stands for molar ratio of MPTS/(MPTS + TMOS). SMS-xs have relatively large BET surface areas, highly cross-linked frameworks, and abundant and uniform mesopores with wormhole-like characteristics. Interestingly, MPTS could be used as the solo precursor to prepare mesoporous organosilica (SMS-1.0), which had controllable acidity and an ultra-high concentration of sulfur (5.51 mmol g−1, the highest acid density to date), which was even higher than those of commercial Amberlyst 15 (4.7 mmol g−1), HS-JLU-20-0.8 (4.61 mmol g−1) and sulfonated carbon (CH0.30O0.33S0.16, 4.90 mmol g−1). These structural characteristics give SMS-xs excellent activities and good reusability in biomass conversions and fine chemicals synthesis, which are much better than various solid acids, such as Amberlyst 15, H-form USY zeolite, and sulfonic acid group-functionalized ordered mesoporous silica.