Sol-gel derived silica possess many promising features, including low-temperature preparation procedure, porosity, chemical and physical stability. Applications exploiting porous materials to encapsulate sensor molecules, enzymes and many other compounds, are developing rapidly. In this paper some potential applications, with emphasis on biomedical and environmental ones, are reviewed. The material preparation procedure is described and practical remarks on silica-based sol-gels are included. It is reported that sol-gels with entrapped various molecules may be used in construction of implants and coatings with bioactive properties. It is shown how to exploit the sol-gel production route for construction of sol-gel coated fiberoptic applicators for lasertherapy. The applications of bioactive materials are discussed, as well. It is demonstrated that it is possible to immobilize photosensitive compounds in sol-gel matrix without loosing their photoactivity. Some examples of sol-gel based biosensors are demonstrated, as well, showing their potential for detecting various gases, toxic substances, acidity, humidity, enzymes and biologically active agents.
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