Aggregative growth of silicalite-1

Sandeep Kumar, Tracy M. Davis, Harikrishnan Ramanan, R. Lee Penn, Michael Tsapatsis

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84 Scopus citations


Precursor silica nanoparticles can evolve to silicalite-1 crystals under hydrothermal conditions in the presence of tetrapropylammonium (TPA) cations. It has been proposed that in relatively dilute sols of silica, TPA, water, and ethanol, silicalite-1 growth is preceded by precursor nanoparticle evolution and then occurs by oriented aggregation. Here, we present a study of silicalite-1 crystallization in more concentrated mixtures and propose that growth follows a path similar to that taken in the dilute system. Small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS), cryogenic transmission electron microscopy (cryo-TEM), and high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM) were used to measure nanoparticle size and to monitor zeolite nucleation and early-stage crystal development. The precursor silica nanoparticles, present in the clear sols prior to crystal formation, were characterized using two SAXS instruments, and the influence of interparticle interactions is discussed. In addition, SAXS was used to detect the onset of secondary particle formation, and HRTEM was used to characterize their structure and morphology. Cryo-TEM allowed for in situ visual observation of the nanoparticle population. Combined results are consistent with growth by aggregation of silica nanoparticles and of the larger secondary crystallites. Finally, a unique intergrowth structure that was formed during the more advanced growth stages is reported, lending additional support for the proposal of aggregative growth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3398-3403
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Issue number13
StatePublished - Apr 5 2007


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