Inorganic porous materials are being developed for use as molecular sieves, ion exchangers, and catalysts, but most are oxides. We show that various sulfide and selenide clusters, when bound to metal ions, yield gels having porous frameworks. These gels are transformed to aerogels after supercritical drying with carbon dioxide. The aerogels have high internal surface area (up to 327 square meters per gram) and broad pore size distribution, depending on the precursors used. The pores of these sulfide and selenide materials preferentially absorb heavy metals. These materials have narrow energy gaps (between 0.2 and 2.0 electron volts) and low densities, and they may be useful in optoelectronics, as photocatalysts, or in the removal of heavy metals from water.
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