Interchain-expanded extra-large-pore zeolites

Nature. 2024 Apr;628(8006):99-103. doi: 10.1038/s41586-024-07194-6. Epub 2024 Mar 27.


Stable aluminosilicate zeolites with extra-large pores that are open through rings of more than 12 tetrahedra could be used to process molecules larger than those currently manageable in zeolite materials. However, until very recently1-3, they proved elusive. In analogy to the interlayer expansion of layered zeolite precursors4,5, we report a strategy that yields thermally and hydrothermally stable silicates by expansion of a one-dimensional silicate chain with an intercalated silylating agent that separates and connects the chains. As a result, zeolites with extra-large pores delimited by 20, 16 and 16 Si tetrahedra along the three crystallographic directions are obtained. The as-made interchain-expanded zeolite contains dangling Si-CH3 groups that, by calcination, connect to each other, resulting in a true, fully connected (except possible defects) three-dimensional zeolite framework with a very low density. Additionally, it features triple four-ring units not seen before in any type of zeolite. The silicate expansion-condensation approach we report may be amenable to further extra-large-pore zeolite formation. Ti can be introduced in this zeolite, leading to a catalyst that is active in liquid-phase alkene oxidations involving bulky molecules, which shows promise in the industrially relevant clean production of propylene oxide using cumene hydroperoxide as an oxidant.