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Nickel nanoparticles supported on amorphous silica ceramic matrix were synthesized by the polymeric precursor method. The nanostructure was characterized by NMR, BET, XRD, SEM, TEM, and flame atomic absorption spectrometry techniques. It was observed a dependence of the crystallite size on the thermal annealing, under a N 2 atmosphere. The materials presented a high catalytic activity and selectivity upon the b-pinene hydrogenation reaction. The magnetic hystereses were also correlated with thedoi:10.1590/s0100-40422002000600010 fatcat:fuefbijosbbxxa7kegqvgn4a7e