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Modifying the Stöber Process: Is the Organic Solvent Indispensable?

The Stöber method is one of the most important and fundamental processes for the synthesis of inorganic (nano)materials, but has the drawback of using a large amount of organic solvent. Herein, we used ethanol as an example to explore if the organic solvent in a typical Stöber method can be omitted. We found that ethanol increases the particle size of the obtained silica spheres and aids the formation of uniform silica particles rather than forming a gel. Nevertheless, the results indicated that an organic solvent in the initial synthesis mixture is not indispensable. We discovered, an initially immiscible synthesis method, which can replace the organic solvent-based Stöber method to successfully synthesize silica particles with the same size ranges as the original Stöber process without addition of organic solvents. Moreover, this process can be of further value to be extended to synthesis processes of other materials based on the Stöber process.

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