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Research article2023Peer reviewedOpen access

Molecular mechanisms of the metal oxide sol-gel process and their application in approaches to thermodynamically challenging complex oxide materials

Kessler, Vadim G.; Seisenbaeva, Gulaim A.


This review presents a brief overview of recent insights into general reaction pathways in sol-gel synthesis of metal oxides. Metal-based sol-gel precursors display kinetically unhindered reactivity, combining high reaction speed with reversibility on a molecular level. The process producing metal oxide sols can thus be described as nucleation of an oxide phase with growth option efficiently precluded by extremely low solubility. The emerging nuclei are essentially Polyoxometalate (POM) species, with sizes in the colloid range starting from about 2 nm. They are stabilized in solution by colloid forces (charge interactions, hydrogen bonding, van der Waals forces), defined by the nature and arrangement of species on their surface, which permits them to be denoted as Micelles Templated by Self-Assembly of Ligands (MTSALs). The sol-gel transition occurs on aggregation of particles resulting in percolation. Exploiting this mechanism, it is possible to produce materials with controlled porosity, biocompatibility, and even to access thermodynamically challenging phases that cannot be produced by conventional synthetic techniques.


Thermodynamic control; Coordination equilibrium; MTSAL; Paperbag compounds; Complex oxides

Published in

Journal of Sol-Gel Science and Technology
2023, Volume: 107, number: 1, pages: 190-200
Publisher: SPRINGER