JOURNAL OF MATERIALS CHEMISTRY, vol.19, no.14, pp.2070-2075, 2009 (SCI-Expanded)
This work describes the preparation of microchannel structured monolithic pieces by the "ice-segregation induced self-assembly'' (ISISA) process. The monoliths exhibit a hierarchical structure composed of homogeneously mixed colloidal silica resulting from hydrolysis and condensation of an alkoxysilane precursor (e. g., TEOS) and TiO2 polycrystalline nanoparticles adsorbed onto sepiolite fibres. The combination of such a different species into a single macroporous structure provides a multifunctional material capable of water decontamination by pollutant removal from aqueous media (via adsorption on sepiolite) and subsequent elimination by UV irradiation (via photocatalytic oxidation on TiO2 nanoparticles). The performance of the resulting materials has been studied using two organic compounds often present in wastewater such as p-nitrophenol (PNP) and methylene blue (MB).