Hybrid organically linked silica is a highly promising class of materials for the application in energy-efficient molecular separation membranes. The materials consist of an amorphous silica matrix in which part of the Si-O-Si bond are replaced by Si-R-Si, where R is an organic group. These materials are extremely stability allowing operation under aggressive working conditions. Depending on R, the pore size may vary from ~ 1 to several 10s of nanometers. Jelassi et al. studied, using SANS, the structure of water in mesoporous silicas depending on the affinity of the pores with respect to water. The versatility of the bridging group offers an extensive
toolbox to tune the nano structure and the affinity of hybrid silica membranes and by doing so to optimize the performance towards specific separation challenges. This provides excellent prospects for industrial applications such as carbon capture and bio fuel production.
The group from Van ‘t Hoff Institute for Molecular Science of the University of Amsterdam will use LARMOR to study the structure and the transport of molecules, such as H2O, H2
and CO2, in these materials as a function of pore size and affinity.