We summarize our recent studies on the use of low-density nanoporous silica structures prepared through templating of a self-assembling disordered liquid-crystalline L (3) phase, as a matrix for use in numerous applications, including sensing, optical data storage, drug release, and structural. The silica matrix exhibits low density (0.5 g cm(-3) to 0.8 g cm(-3) for monoliths, 0.6 g cm(-3) to 0.99 g cm(-3) for fibers) coupled with high surface areas (up 1400 m(2) g(-1)) and void volumes (65% or higher). High-surface-area coatings are used to increase the sensitivity of mass-detecting quartz crystal microbalances to over 4000 times that of uncoated crystals. Monoliths, films, and fibers are produced using the templated silica gel. Once dried and converted to silica, the nanostructured material exhibits high fracture strength (up to 35 MPa in fibers) and Young's modulus (30 GPa to 40 GPa in fibers). These values are, respectively, two orders of magnitude and twice those of nanostructured silicas having comparable densities.