A transition of porous structures in monolithic poly(methylsilsesquioxane) (PMSQ, CH3SiO1.5) gels from uniform mesopores to hierarchical pore structures consisting of macro- and mesopores, has been investigated using a sol-gel system containing surfactant Pluronic F127. A broad variation of porous morphology is controlled by changing the concentration of F127. Sufficient concentrations of F127 inhibit the occurrence of macroscopic phase separation of hydrophobic PMSQ condensates and lead to well-defined mesoporous transparent aerogels with high specific pore volume. Mesopores are developed through microscopic phase separation of PMSQ colloid-surfactant complexes in the solvent. Macroscopic phase separation regulates well-defined macropores in the micrometer range on decreasing concentrations of F127, in which microscopic phase separation concurrently takes place in the PMSQ-rich gelling phase after the onset of macroscopic phase separation. Monolithic PMSQ gels with hierarchical macro- and mesopore structures are consequently obtained.
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