Living organisms construct various forms of laminated nanocomposites through directed nucleation and growth of inorganics at self-assembled organic templates at temperatures below 100°C and in aqueous solutions. Recent research has focused on the use of functionalized organic surfaces to form continuous thin films of single-phase ceramics. Continuous thin films of mesostructured silicates have also been formed on hydrophobic and hydrophilic surfaces through a two-step mechanism. First, under acidic conditions, surfactant micellar structures are self-assembled at the solid/liquid interface, and second, inorganic precursors condense to form an inorganic- organic nanocomposite. Epitaxial coordination of adsorbed surfactant tubules is observed on mica and graphite substrates, whereas a random arrangement is observed on amorphous silica. The ability to process ceramic-organic nanocomposite films by these methods provides new technological opportunities.
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