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Nat Mater. 2003 Jun;2(6):386-90.

Dextran templating for the synthesis of metallic and metal oxide sponges.

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School of Chemistry, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 1TS, UK.


Silver or gold-containing porous frameworks have been used extensively in catalysis, electrochemistry, heat dissipation and biofiltration. These materials are often prepared by thermal reduction of metal-ion-impregnated porous insoluble supports (such as alumina and pumice), and have surface areas of about 1 m(2) g(-1), which is typically higher than that obtained for pure metal powders or foils prepared electrolytically or by infiltration and thermal decomposition of insoluble cellulose supports. Starch gels have been used in association with zeolite nanoparticles to produce porous inorganic materials with structural hierarchy, but the use of soft sacrificial templates in the synthesis of metallic sponges has not been investigated. Here we demonstrate that self-supporting macroporous frameworks of silver, gold and copper oxide, as well as composites of silver/copper oxide or silver/titania can be routinely prepared by heating metal-salt-containing pastes of the polysaccharide, dextran, to temperatures between 500 and 900 degrees C. Magnetic sponges were similarly prepared by replacing the metal salt precursor with preformed iron oxide (magnetite) nanoparticles. The use of dextran as a sacrificial template for the fabrication of metallic and metal oxide sponges should have significant benefits over existing technologies because the method is facile, inexpensive, environmentally benign, and amenable to scale-up and processing.

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