Morphological control of silicalite-1 crystals using microemulsion mediated growth
Lee, Seung Ju
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Zeolites are crystalline, microporous aluminosilicates that have been extensively used in heterogeneous catalysis, separations, and ion-exchange operations. It has long been understood that particle size and morphology play a central role in the successful application of zeolites. This dissertation reports on controlling the morphology of all-silica zeolite, silicalite-1, made in nonionic/ionic microemulsions under conventional synthesis conditions. Silicalite-1 materials formed in microemulsion-mediated syntheses possess different morphological properties as compared to samples grown using the same synthesis mixture in the absence of the microemulsion. The work presented here is a systematic study showing how parameters such as synthesis temperature, microemulsion composition, silica precursor, alkali content, presence of salt, and the surfactant identity impact the material properties, most notably crystal morphology. In the nonionic microemulsion mediated synthesis, the work demonstrates the possibility of using microemulsions to manipulate the shape and size of silicalite-1 materials, growing both spheres and high-aspect ratio platelets. In both cases these large particles are robust aggregates of small submicron particles. Based on the results presented, a mechanism is proposed illustrating the role of both the confined space presented by the microemulsion as well as the importance of the surfactant-silicate interactions leading to the formation of the large aggregates. In the cationic microemulsion mediated synthesis, it is concluded that the surfactant??silicate interactions are primarily responsible for the modulation of crystal morphology observed. The results indicate that surfactant adsorption on the growing crystal surface, not the confined space afforded by the microemulsion, is essential. The results suggest that this may be a versatile and useful approach to controlling zeolite crystal morphology and growth of crystals obtained from conventional high-silica zeolite synthesis procedures.