The recently discovered mesoporous aluminosilicate MCM-41 consists of hexagonal arrays of nanometer-sized cylindrical pores. It is shown that this material can be synthesized by cooperative condensation of silicate and cylindrical cationic micelles. Careful control of the surfactant-water content and the rate of condensation of silica at high alkalinity resulted in hollow tubules 0.3 to 3 micrometers in diameter. The wall of the tubules consisted of coaxial cylindrical pores, nanometers in size, that are characteristic of those of MCM-41. The formation of this higher order structure may take place through a liquid crystal phase transformation mechanism involving an anisotropic membrane-to-tubule phase change. The hierarchical organization of this 'tubules-within-a-tubule' particle texture is similar to that of the frustules of marine diatoms.
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