June 10, 2016
- In a paper featured on the cover of Angewandte Chemie, CEMS researchers and collaborators report the synthesis of nanometer-thick layers with open molecular-size pores and demonstrate their use in the fabrication of hydrocarbon-isomer-selective membranes on polymer supports. Han Zhang, a CEMS graduate student co-advised by Professors Michael Tsapatsis and Chris Macosko, is the lead author. CEMS graduate student Prashant Kumar designed the cover image.
Zeolites are crystals with pores of molecular size, which are used in the chemical industry as catalysts, adsorbents and membranes. In the last decade, the Tsapatsis' group and collaborators introduced methods to make nanometer-thick zeolite crystals (called 2-dimensional zeolites) and demonstrated applications in thin selective membranes and catalysts. To make these 2D zeolites, organic molecules, called structure directing agents (SDA), are used and end up filling the zeolite pores. To activate the zeolite, SDA should be removed by thermal treatments, which are not compatible with temperature-sensitive materials like polymers. Research, supported by ARPAE and other sources, now demonstrates that with a solution-based chemical treatment the SDA can be removed and open-pore 2D zeolites can be made as a suspension in water for the first time. This development opens the way to explore many applications, including hydrocarbon-isomer-selective membranes supported on polymers made by a simple scalable process. The work was performed by CEMS researchers and several visiting professors and collaborators.
Related Link: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/anie.201601135/abstract