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A zeolite with structure type MFI is an aluminosilicate or silicate material that has a three-dimensionally connected pore network, which enables molecular recognition in the size range 0.5-0.6 nm. These micropore dimensions are relevant for many valuable chemical intermediates, and therefore MFI-type zeolites are widely used in the chemical industry as selective catalysts or adsorbents. As with all zeolites, strategies to tailor them for specific applications include controlling their crystal size and shape. Nanometre-thick MFI crystals (nanosheets) have been introduced in pillared and self-pillared (intergrown) architectures, offering improved mass-transfer characteristics for certain adsorption and catalysis applications. Moreover, single (non-intergrown and non-layered) nanosheets have been used to prepare thin membranes that could be used to improve the energy efficiency of separation processes. However, until now, single MFI nanosheets have been prepared using a multi-step approach based on the exfoliation of layered MFI, followed by centrifugation to remove non-exfoliated particles. This top-down method is time-consuming, costly and low-yield and it produces fragmented nanosheets with submicrometre lateral dimensions. Alternatively, direct (bottom-up) synthesis could produce high-aspect-ratio zeolite nanosheets, with improved yield and at lower cost. Here we use a nanocrystal-seeded growth method triggered by a single rotational intergrowth to synthesize high-aspect-ratio MFI nanosheets with a thickness of 5 nanometres (2.5 unit cells). These high-aspect-ratio nanosheets allow the fabrication of thin and defect-free coatings that effectively cover porous substrates. These coatings can be intergrown to produce high-flux and ultra-selective MFI membranes that compare favourably with other MFI membranes prepared from existing MFI materials (such as exfoliated nanosheets or nanocrystals).
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the ARPA-E programme of the US Department of Energy under Award DE-AR0000338 (0670-3240) for MFI nanosheet synthesis and characterization; by the Center for Gas Separations Relevant to Clean Energy Technologies, an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the US Department of Energy, Office of Science, Basic Energy Sciences under Award DE-SC0001015 for membrane fabrication and permeation testing; by the US Department of Energy, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, Division of Chemical Sciences, Geosciences and Biosciences under Award DEFG02-12ER16362 for the theoretical calculations; and by the Deanship of Scientific Research at the King Abdulaziz University D-003/433 for zeolite and membrane microstructure characterization. Parts of this work were carried out in the Characterization Facility, University of Minnesota, which receives partial support from the NSF through the MRSEC programme. SEM measurements were partially performed on a Hitachi 8230 provided by NSF MRI DMR-1229263. This research used the resources of the Advanced Photon Source, a US Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science User Facility operated for the DOE Office of Science by Argonne National Laboratory under contract number DE-AC02-06CH11357. For the theoretical calculations we used the resources of the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute and of the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF) at Argonne National Laboratory, which is supported by the Office of Science of the Department of Energy under contract DE-AC02-06CH11357.
How much support was provided by MRSEC?
Reporting period for MRSEC
- Period 3
PubMed: MeSH publication types
- Journal Article
- Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
- Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't