Synthesis and organization of zeolite-like materials with three-dimensional helical pores


The increasing demand for enantiomerically pure chemicals has stimulated extensive research into the preparation of heterogeneous chiral catalysts or separation media that combine both shape selectivity and enantioselectivity1. Helical pores in inorganic materials might be able to perform such functions, but their occurrence is rare1. Attempts have been reported to synthesize a specific enantiomorph of the chiral zeolite beta2, and chiral metal complexes have been used to assemble inorganic precursors into chiral frameworks3,4. Materials with a fully three-dimensional array of helical structural units are particularly rare, because helical structures (such as quartz) are commonly generated by a uni-dimensional symmetry element acting on an achiral structural subunit5,6. Here we report on a family of zeolite-type materials (which we call UCSB-7) that possess two independent sets of three-dimensional crosslinked helical pores, separated by a gyroid periodic minimal surface13. We have synthesized the UCSB-7 framework for various compositions (zinc and beryllium arsenates, gallium germanate) using either inorganic cations or amines as structure-directing agents. The helical-ribbon motif that we identify might be exploited more widely for developing useful chiral solid-state structures.

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Figure 1: The helical ribbons are crosslinked in three dimensions to give 12-ring pores.
Figure 2: Helices viewed parallel to cubic unit cell edges and body diagonal directions.
Figure 3: The crystalline gyroid minimal surface of UCSB-7 separates the space into two disconnected volumes.


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This research was supported in part by the National Science Foundation and the Office of Naval Research. P.F. thanks the Materials Research Laboratory for a Corning Foundation Fellowship. All figures were generated using software programs from Molecular Simulations.

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Correspondence to Galen D. Stucky.

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Gier, T., Bu, X., Feng, P. et al. Synthesis and organization of zeolite-like materials with three-dimensional helical pores. Nature 395, 154–157 (1998).

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