Indexed on: 15 Oct '14Published on: 15 Oct '14Published in: Journal of the American Chemical Society
The encapsulation of metal clusters (Pt, Ru, Rh) within MFI was achieved by exchanging cationic metal precursors into a parent zeolite (BEA, FAU), reducing them with H2 to form metal clusters, and transforming these zeolites into daughter structures of higher framework density (MFI) under hydrothermal conditions. These transformations required MFI seeds or organic templates for FAU parent zeolites, but not for BEA, and occurred with the retention of encapsulated clusters. Clusters uniform in size (1.3-1.7 nm) and exposing clean and accessible surfaces formed in BEA and FAU zeolites; their size remained essentially unchanged upon transformation into MFI. Encapsulation selectivities, determined from the relative hydrogenation rates of small (toluene) and large (alkyl arenes) molecules and defined as the ratio of the surface areas of all the clusters in the sample to that of external clusters, were very high (8.1-40.9) for both parent and daughter zeolites. Encapsulation into MFI via direct hydrothermal syntheses was unsuccessful because metal precursors precipitated prematurely at the pH and temperatures required for MFI synthesis. Delayed introduction of metal precursors and F(-) (instead of OH(-)) as the mineralizing agent in hydrothermal syntheses increased encapsulation selectivities, but they remained lower than those achieved via interzeolite transformations. These interconversions provide a general and robust strategy for encapsulation of metals when precursors can be introduced via exchange into a zeolite that can be transformed into target daughter zeolites with higher framework densities, whether spontaneously or by using seeds or structure-directing agents (SDA).