We describe the elaboration of nanostructured transparent conducting indium tin oxide (ITO) materials that is based on controlled self-assembly of ultra-small indium tin hydroxide nanoparticles. We developed a strategy for preparing nanosized, nearly spherical and highly dispersible nanoparticles of indium tin hydroxide (“nano-hydroxides”), which can be assembled into regular mesoporous architectures directed by a commercially available Pluronic polymer. The assembled structures are easily transformed into conducting crystalline mesoporous ITO films by a mild heat treatment at 300 °C. The resulting ITO layers feature a regular mesoporosity with a mesostructure periodicity of about 13 ± 2 nm, high surface area of 190 m2 cm−3, porosity of 44% and electrical conductivity up to 9.5 S cm−1. The ITO films can accommodate large amounts of redox-active molecules and serve as efficient conducting electrodes with a very high surface area. The perfect dispersibility of nano-hydroxides without any stabilizing agents, their preferential interaction with the hydrophilic part of amphiphilic molecules leading to their self-assembly, and a facile transformation of the assembled nano-hydroxides into crystalline ITO with similar morphology make the nano-hydroxides very attractive building blocks for the elaboration of nanostructured ITO materials. We believe that the nano-hydroxides can become universal building blocks for the fabrication of crystalline ITO materials with arbitrary nano-morphologies.
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