Zeolites are crystalline aluminosilicate minerals featuring a network of 0.3–1.5-nm-wide pores, used in industry as catalysts for hydrocarbon interconversion, ion exchangers, molecular sieves and adsorbents1. For improved applications, it is highly useful to study the distribution of internal local strains because they sensitively affect the rates of adsorption and diffusion of guest molecules within zeolites2,3. Here, we report the observation of an unusual triangular deformation field distribution in ZSM-5 zeolites by coherent X-ray diffraction imaging4, showing the presence of a strain within the crystal arising from the heterogeneous core–shell structure, which is supported by finite element model calculation and confirmed by fluorescence measurement. The shell is composed of H-ZSM-5 with intrinsic negative thermal expansion5 whereas the core exhibits a different thermal expansion behaviour due to the presence of organic template residues, which usually remain when the starting materials are insufficiently calcined. Engineering such strain effects could have a major impact on the design of future catalysts.
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This research was supported by the Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Science, ICT & Future Planning of Korea (Nos. 2007-0053982, 2011-0012251 and 2008-0062606, CELA-NCRC), Sogang University Research Grant of 2012 and an ERC FP7 Advanced Grant 227711. W.C. was also supported by a Hi Seoul Science/Humanities Fellowship from the Seoul Scholarship Foundation. K.B.Y. thanks the NRF project No. 2012M1A2A2671784. G.X. and I.K.R. were supported by the ‘Nanoscupture’ advanced grant from the European Research Council. Use of the Advanced Photon Source was supported by the US Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Science, under Contract No. DE-AC02-06CH11357.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Cha, W., Jeong, N., Song, S. et al. Core–shell strain structure of zeolite microcrystals. Nature Mater 12, 729–734 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1038/nmat3698
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