Nanoporous materials consist of a regular organic or inorganic framework supporting a regular, porous structure. The size of the pores is generally 100 nanometers or smaller. Most nanoporous materials can be classified as bulk materials or membranes. Activated carbon and zeolites are two examples of bulk nanoporous materials, while cell membranes can be thought of as nanoporous membranes.
There are many natural nanoporous materials, but artificial materials can also be manufactured. One method of doing so is to combine polymers with different melting points, so that upon heating one polymer degrades. A nanoporous material with consistently sized pores has the property of letting only certain substances pass through, while blocking others.
Nanoporous materials can be subdivided into 3 categories, set out by IUPAC:
- Microporous materials: 0.2–2 nm
- Mesoporous materials: 2–50 nm
- Macroporous materials: 50–1000 nm
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