Like using an ice cube tray to make ice in the shape of the holes of the tray, templating is used in chemistry to make materials with specific shapes defined by the templates. Instead of using ice cube trays, chemists use templates with mesopores, holes or pores that are 2 to 50 nanometers wide. (A human hair is on average about 100 000 nanometers wide!)
KIT-6 is an example of a mesoporous material with pores that can be used to template other materials. Susan, a PhD student in our group, used KIT-6 to template cobalt oxide. After templating cobalt oxide, the KIT-6 was removed, leaving just the cobalt oxide in the shape of the KIT-6 pores. Entirely new composite materials were then made using this mesoporous cobalt oxide by filling the space left behind by removing KIT-6. These new composite materials were used to oxidise methane at low temperature, which is an important advance in using natural gas as a fuel for vehicles.