Silica aerogels were patterned with CdS using a photolithographic technique based on local heating with infrared (IR) light. The solvent of silica hydrogels was exchanged with an aqueous solution of the precursors CdNO3 and NH4OH, all precooled to a temperature of 5°C. Half of the bathing solution was then replaced by a thiourea solution. After thiourea diffused into the hydrogels, the samples were exposed to a focused IR beam from a continuous wave, Nd-YAG laser. The precursors reacted in the spots heated by the IR beam to form CdS nanoparticles. We lithographed features with a diameter of about 40μm, which extended inside the monoliths for up to 4mm. Samples were characterized with transmission electron microscopy and optical absorption, photoluminescence, and Raman spectroscopies. Spots illuminated by the IR beam were made up by CdS nanoparticles dispersed in a silica matrix. The CdS nanoparticles had a diameter in the 46nm range in samples exposed for 4min to the IR beam, and of up to 100nm in samples exposed for 10min.

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