Soft Chemistry Routes to New Materials
Within the last few decades, advances in solid-state chemistry have resulted in substantial progress towards a better understanding of the solid state, and have even led to the development of some predictive capablities in crystal chemistry. Nonetheless, in more recent years, entirely new ways of thinking have appeared. The term "soft chemistry" or "chimie douce", is often applied in a general manner to refer to these new routes, these new ways of thinking.
The field of soft chemistry is not restricted to a well-defined area of science. While sol-gel processes represent one essential component of soft chemistry, other reactions dealing with intercalation-deintercalation, pillaring-grafting, and exchange-condensation are no less important. The unifying theme behind these various processes is a common scientific approach, similar methods of characterization, and analogous problematics related to metastability and phase transitions. Perhaps the term "soft chemistry" should be regarded more as a way of thinking, a new paradigm in solid state chemistry.
It is felt that it is time to take stock of all that has been done in this respect, and to try to formulate some concepts or, at least, some general guidelines in soft chemistry. This is the purpose of this book.