Changes in the structure of composite colloid-polymer xerogels after cold isostatic pressing
Monolithic gels, prepared from different mixtures of colloidal silica in a sol solution containing tetraethoxysilane under powerful ultrasonic agitation (sonosols), were compacted at an isostatic pressure of 390 MPa. Then N2 adsorption-desorption data were used to construct structural models of the gels using Monte-Carlo calculations on the basis of random close-packing (RCP) premises. Structural information on these composites obtained before compaction indicates that the characteristic uniform structure of silica colloid gel undergoes profound modification when it is mixed with silica sonogel. From a structural point of view, the behaviour under compaction of the sonogel phase, which exhibits a significant degree of microporosity, depends on the relative concentration of the colloidal phase. Two hierarchic levels of micropores were discerned. After compression, the size of the elementary particles—and their aggregates—of the sonogel phase increases from 1.6 to 2.1 nm radius when the colloidal phase content is increased from 30 to 82% by weight. For an intermediate content, 50% of the volume reduction is caused by compression of the sonogel phase at the micropore level.
KeywordsXerogel Structural model SiO2–SiO2 composites Colloidal gel Sonogel Monte-Carlo
The authors are grateful to the Spanish Government and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) for financial support under research projects MAT2004-00801, MAT2005-01583 and MAT2007-60681. The authors are also grateful to the Andalusia Government for financial support under research project. (Projects:) and the Junta de Andalucía (Projects: TEP 790 and TEP2092). The authors are also grateful to Degussa Iberia, S.A. for supplying Aerosil OX-50.
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