Sol-gel Method

So much information exist on the web about the sol-gel method, that there isn't much point in me explaining what it is in detail here.  Rather, I would point you to the site and there you will find all the information you could ever want about sol-gels.  I will, however, give a brief outline as to how I specifically use the sol-gel method to produce my inorganic/organic hybrid materials.

The procedure I use to produce the inorganic/organic hybrid films is depicted in the image below.  There is nothing special about this procedure except for the fact that I don't remove the Pluronic P123® surfactant.  This would normally be removed by heating to form a mesoporous material.

sol-gel process

The read dots in the image represents the manometer size self-assembled meso-structures in which the dyes and other small organic molecules reside in.  This area is depicted the below.  The molecular formular on the top is that of the Pluronic P123® surfactant.

sol-gel network

Here are some AFM and optical images of the films.

sol-gel film AFM image

optical image