Structural characteristics of gels prepared from sonohydrolysis and conventional hydrolysis of TEOS: an emphasis on the mass fractal as determined from the pore size distribution
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Silica gels were preparated from fixed proportion mixtures of tetraethoxysilane, water and hydrocloric acid, using either ultrasound stimulation (US) or conventional method (CO) in the hydrolysis step of the process. Wet gets were obtained with the same silica volume concentration and density. According to small-angle X-ray scattering, the structure of the wet gels can be described as mass fractal structures with mass fractal dimension D = 2.20 in a length scale xi = 7.9 nm, in the case of wet gels US, and D = 2.26 in a length scale 6.9 nm, in the case of wet gels CO. The mass fractal characteristics of the wet gels US and CO account for the different structures evolved in the drying of the gels US and CO in the obtaining of xerogels and aerogels. The pore structure of the dried gels was studied by nitrogen adsorption as a function of the temperature. Aerogels (US and CO) present high porosity with pore size distribution (PSD) curves in the mesopore region while xerogels (US and CO) present minor porosity with PSD curves mainly in the micropore region. The dried gels US (aerogels and xerogels) generally present pore volume and specific surface area greater than the dried gels CO. The mass fractal structure of the aerogels has been studied from an approach based on the PSD curves exclusively. (c) 2005 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.