Periodically ordered mesoporous silicas constitute one of the most important branches of porous materials that are extensively employed in various chemical engineering applications including adsorption, separation and catalysis. This short review gives an introduction to recently developed mesoporous silicas with emphasis on their complicated structures and synthesis mechanisms. In addition, two powerful techniques for solving complex mesoporous structures, electron crystallography and electron tomography, are compared to elucidate their respective strength and limitations. Some critical issues and challenges regarding the development of novel mesoporous structures as well as their applications are also discussed. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.
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