Macroporous silica materials with ordered three-dimensional pore structure can be easily prepared by the template-directed sol-gel process. However, it is still a challenge to prepare them in membrane form on a porous support, which limits their applications. In this work, we have demonstrated the feasibility of obtaining a three-dimensional ordered macroporous silica membrane on macroporous alumina support using poly-methyl methacrylate (PMMA) spheres as the template. PMMA spheres were packed on the top of an Anopore-alumina support by filtration of a PMMA aqueous suspension. Silica sol obtained by an acid-catalyzed sol-gel process was infiltrated into the voids among the spheres. Drying induced stress caused the membrane to crack or peel off from the top of the support. This can be minimized by annealing the PMMA template layer before the introduction of silica sol which increases the mechanical strength of the template. Calcination or solvent extraction to remove the template produced a highly ordered three-dimensional macroporous silica membrane with spherical pores connected by windows in the mesoporous range. The results show that the PMMA-templated infiltration method is effective in preparing three-dimensional ordered macroporous silica membranes on a porous support.
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