Engineering and optimization of nano- and mesoporous silica fibers using sol-gel and electrospinning techniques for sorption of heavy metal ions

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, 2011, 358 (2), pp. 547 - 553
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In this paper, we report on a novel design strategy of an efficient sorbent for removal of trace contaminants from water. This kind of sorbent is composed of a nonporous core of SiO2 nanofiber and a mesoporous shell (denoted as nSiO2@mSiO2 (" n" means " nonporous" and " m" means " mesoporous" )). The nSiO2@mSiO2 fiber possesses a continuously long fibrous shape and mesoporous micromorphology, thus, showing both high sorption capacity and separability. The flexible nonporous SiO2 nanofiber was prepared with electrospinning first, followed by covering a mesoporous SiO2 shell based on a modified Stöber method using CTAB (cetyltrimethylammonium bromide) as the directing agent for formation of the mesopores. Also, functional thiol groups were grafted on the nSiO2@mSiO2 to enhance its performance. With a large specific surface area and long fibrous morphology, the nSiO2@mSiO2 fiber and its thiol-functionalized counterpart exhibit impressive performance on removal of Pb2+ and Cd2+ from water. Furthermore, the flexible texture and fibrous morphology of the nSiO2@mSiO2 fiber also made the removal of metal ions and the separation process more convenient and efficient, implying that the nSiO2@mSiO2 fiber could have great potential for industrial applications. © 2011 Elsevier Inc.
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