A dried gel material sterically entrapping nanoclusters of a catalytically active material and a process to make the material via an inverse micelle/sol-gel synthesis. A surfactant is mixed with an apolar solvent to form an inverse micelle solution. A salt of a catalytically active material, such as gold chloride, is added along with a silica gel precursor to the solution to form a mixture. To the mixture are then added a reducing agent for the purpose of reducing the gold in the gold chloride to atomic gold to form the nanoclusters and a condensing agent to form the gel which sterically entraps the nanoclusters. The nanoclusters are normally in the average size range of from 5-10 nm in diameter with a monodisperse size distribution.