Synthesis of mesoporous silica using a mineral silica source

Langston Tillman, Albert Voskanyan, Alexandra Navrotsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Mesoporous silica has been applied in catalysis, separations, and drug delivery. It has generally been made using organosilicon precursors such as tetraethyl orthosilicate. For sustainability, it is necessary to find readily accessible mineral sources for making mesoporous silica. In this work, we demonstrate the successful synthesis of mesoporous silica with 10 nm average pore size using the mineral forsterite (Mg2SiO4) as a silica source, providing a potentially cheaper and more Earth-friendly route to making technologically important porous silica materials. Pure forsterite was synthesized by a solid-state chemistry route at 1000°C and underwent dissolution–reprecipitation in aqueous hydrochloric acid containing the soft template surfactant, Pluronic P123. Variations of initial reaction pH (−0.2 to 0.6), reaction time (12–24 h), reaction temperature (50 to 90°C), and silica precursor (forsterite and fumed silica) were performed. The mesoporous silica aged at 70°C for 24 h had the highest porosity, with a surface area of 735 m2/g and a pore volume of 1.4 ml/g, comparable to mesoporous silica made using conventional starting materials. This novel geomimetic synthesis route supports the possibility of analogous formation of structured (mesoporous or zeolitic) silica in nature under abiotic or prebiotic conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1993-1999
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Ceramic Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2023


  • forsterite
  • mesoporous silica
  • surfactant
  • synthesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Materials Chemistry


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