Porous silica micro/nanofibers containing catalytic silver and gold nanoparticles were synthesized by a sol-gel plus electrospinning method. Tetraethyl orthosilicate (TEOS), poly[3-(trimethoxysily)propyl methacrylate] (PMCM), silver nitrate (AgNO3) and Chloroauric Acid (HAuCl4-4H2O) were used as precursors for the production of silica-PMCM hybrid fibers and silver (Ag) & gold (Au) nanoparticles. Heat treatment of the fibers at high temperatures resulted in both the thermal decomposition of PMCM polymer, leading to the porosity, and the conversion of metal precursors to their respective metal nanoparticles. The color of the fiber mats can be changed from light yellow to dark golden brown and light pink to a dark purple due to the surface plasma resonance of the Ag and Au nanoparticles embedded in the fibers respectively. It is possible to tune the size and density of the metal particles in the silica fibers by varying the amount of metal precursor introduced and the thermal treatment conditions. The silica fibers containing the metal particles were then characterized by environmental scanning electron microscopy, transmission electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction, UV-Vis spectroscopy, and thermogravimetric analysis. The catalytic activity of the Ag containing fiber mats was assessed by reduction of methylene blue dye.
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