The reactions of 3-glycidoxypropyltrimethoxysilane in a highly basic aqueous solution have been studied by multinuclear magnetic resonance and light scattering techniques. The study has shown that in this peculiar chemical environment the alkoxy groups of 3-glycidoxypropyltrimethoxysilane undergo a fast hydrolysis and condensation which favor the formation of open hybrid silica cages. The silica condensation reaches 90% at a short aging time but does not go to completion even after 9 days. The highly basic conditions also slow down the opening of the epoxies which fully react only after several days of aging. The epoxy opening generates different chemical species and several reaction pathways have been observed; in particular, the formation of polyethylene oxide chains, diols, termination of the organic chain by methyl ether groups and formation of dioxane species. These reactions are slow and proceed gradually with aging; light scattering analysis has shown that clusters of dimensions lower than 20 nm are formed after two days of reactions, but their further growth is hindered by the highly basic conditions which limit full silica condensation and formation of organic chains.
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