A versatile sol–gel route has been developed for the preparation of hierarchical porous silica membrane material with highly dispersed platinum nanoparticles (Pt-NPs). The outstanding feature of the “one pot” synthesis developed in this work lies in the successful preparation of a stable complex suspension made of silica sol, multi-scale porogens and Pt nanoparticles. The multi-scale porogens were based on non-ionic triblock copolymers and aqueous latex suspension to create mesopores and macropores, respectively, with finely tuned pore size and organization. For further functionalization of the membranes, Pt nanoparticles of about 4 nm in diameter were prepared by irradiating with microwaves (MW) the Pt precursors added in the starting suspension. This original path is suggested to enable a pre-organization of Pt nanoparticles in the ordered mesoporous structure. The suspensions were then deposited as thin films on either dense or macroporous supports, and further thermally treated at 450 °C to remove the porogen units. Hierarchical porous layers composed of micropores (<2 nm), ordered mesopores (∼4 nm) and macropores (∼70 nm) with or without Pt were prepared and characterized. The resulting membranes are foreseen to exhibit great potential as multifunctional membranes for gas separation coupled with catalytic reaction.
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