Zeolites are versatile materials employed industrially as catalysts, adsorbents and in separation processes. Although they were known since antiquity, little is known about the nucleation and growth mechanisms that would help to control the properties of these materials. To unravel the nucleation and growth processes we propose to use Small-Angle X-ray Scattering (SAXS), which allows monitoring in situ the formation with length scales ranging from the nanometer up to several hundreds of nanometers. Furthermore, coherent X-ray imaging techniques, which are new emerging imaging techniques, enable to obtain the 3-dimensional morphology of materials as well as the strain distribution, in the case of Bragg coherent diffraction imaging. With these new X-ray coherent techniques, direct visualisation of the zeolites, pores and cavities will be imaged. The results provided by both techniques will enable a better understanding of the zeolite synthesis and the rational design of new zeolitic materials such as nanozeolites. We propose to focus on the study of zeolites LTA, FER, MER, STF and STW. The LTA zeolite will be used as reference; meanwhile the others are very promising and have not been in-depth studied yet. The catalytic tests will be performed in parallel and their results will be correlated with the experiments performed at the synchrotron.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: