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Lebold, Timo; Michaelis, Jens; Bräuchle, Christoph (2011): The complexity of mesoporous silica nanomaterials unravelled by single molecule microscopy. In: Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, Vol. 13, No. 11: pp. 5017-5033




Mesoporous silica nanomaterials are a novel class of materials that offer a highly complex porous network with nanometre-sized channels into which a wide amount of differently sized guests can be incorporated. This makes them an ideal host for various applications for example in catalysis, chromatography and nanomedicine. For these applications, analyzing the host properties and understanding the complicated host–guest interactions is of pivotal importance. In this perspective we review some of our recent work that demonstrates that single molecule microscopy techniques can be utilized to characterize the porous silica host with unprecedented detail. Furthermore, the single molecule studies reveal sample heterogeneities and are a highly efficient tool to gain direct mechanistic insights into the host–guest interactions. Single molecule microscopy thus contributes to a thorough understanding of these nanomaterials enabling the development of novel tailor-made materials and hence optimizing their applicability significantly.