Chemistry of trimethyl aluminum: A spontaneous route to thermally stable 3D crystalline macroporous alumina foams with a hierarchy of pore sizes

Yu Li, Xiao Yu Yang, Ge Tian, Aurélien Vantomme, Jiaguo Yu, Gustaaf Van Tendeloo, Bao Lian Su

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A simple and spontaneous one-pot self-formation procedure that is easy to scale up has been developed based on the chemistry of trimethylaluminum (TMA), leading to thermally stable macroporous crystalline alumina with a very unique and unprecedented three-dimensional (3D) hierarchical pore structure consisting of well-defined wormlike mesopores. TMA is the precursor of both product and porogene (viz, two working functions within the same molecule (2 in 1)). The materials obtained have been intensively characterized by powder X-ray diffraction (XRD), field-emission scanning electron microscopy (FESEM), high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM), N2 adsorption-desorption, and mercury porosimetry. The open cagelike macrocavities are self-constructed by mesoporous nanorods (diameter of ca. 40-70 nm), which are themselves formed by a random assembly of fibrous nanoparticles 5-6 nm in size. Optical microscopy (OM) has been used in situ to follow the synthesis procedure, which led to the proposal of the formation mechanism. Methane molecules as porogens, which were instantaneously released because of the fast hydrolysis of the chemical precursor, were the key factor in producing these 3D structures with uniform co-continuous macropores that interconnected directly with the wormlike mesopores. The important characteristic of this procedure is the concurrent formation of a multiscaled porous network. The material exhibits great thermal stability. The hierarchically mesoporous-macroporous Al 2O3 obtained is quite attractive for a myriad of applications, from catalysis to biomedicine. The present work illustrates that the one-pot self-formation concept, based on the chemistry of alkyl metals, is a versatile method to design industrially valuable hierarchically porous materials. © 2010 American Chemical Society.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3251-3258
Number of pages8
JournalChemistry of Materials
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 25 May 2010


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