Observation of a cubic phase in mesoporous silicate films grown at the air/water interface

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Jeremy L. Ruggles, Stephen A. Holt, Philip A. Reynolds, Anthony S. Brown, Dudley C. Creagh and John W. White


X-Ray diffraction is reported from mesoporous silicate films grown at the air/water interface. The films were studied both as powdered films, and oriented on silicon or mica sheets. At early stages of growth we observe Bragg diffraction from a highly ordered cubic phase, with both long and short d-spacing peaks. We have assigned this as a discontinuous micellar Pm3n phase in which the silica is partly ordered. Later films retain only the known hexagonal p6m peaks and have lost any order both at short d-spacings and the longer d-spacing Bragg peaks characteristic of the cubic structure. The silica framework is considerably expanded from that in bulk amorphous silica, average Si···Si distances are some 30% greater. Incorporation of glycerol or polyethylene glycol preserves the earlier cubic structure. To be consistent with earlier, insitu, X-ray and neutron reflectivity data we infer that both structures are produced after a phase transition from a less-ordered film structure late in the induction phase. The structural relations between the film Pm3n and p6m phase(s) and the known bulk SBA-1 and MCM-41 phases are briefly discussed.


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