Silica mesoporous crystals (SMCs) offer a unique opportunity to study micellar mesophases. Replication of non-equilibrium mesophases into porous silica structures allows the characterization of surfactant phases under a variety of chemical and physical perturbations, through methods not typically accessible to liquid crystal chemists. A poignant example is the use of electron microscopy and crystallography, as discussed herein, for the purpose of determining the fundamental role of amphiphile curvature, namely mean curvature and Gaussian curvature, which have been extensively studied in various fields such as polymer, liquid crystal, biological membrane, etc. The present work aims to highlight some current studies devoted to the interface curvature on SMCs, in which electron microscopy and electron crystallography (EC) are used to understand the geometry of silica wall surface in bicontinuous and cage-type mesostructures through the investigation of electrostatic potential maps. Additionally, we show that by altering the synthesis conditions during the preparation of SMCs, it is possible to isolate particles during micellar mesophase transformations in the cubic bicontinuous system, allowing us to view and study epitaxial relations under the specific synthesis conditions. By studying the relationship between mesoporous structure, interface curvature and micellar mesophases using electron microscopy and EC, we hope to bring new insights into the formation mechanism of these unique materials but also contribute a new way of understanding periodic liquid crystal systems. © 2012 The Royal Society.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biomedical Engineering