Zeolites are widely used in (petro-) chemical industry. However, by their microporous nature, diffusion limitations arise towards and away from active sites, hampering the zeolite’s optimal functioning during reaction.[1,2] Trial-and-error experimentation have learned that the development of (hierarchical) meso- and macropores can in part overcome these diffusion limitations. Yet, a nanoscale understanding of hierarchical porosity development and its effect on molecular diffusion remains unavailable to date. This strongly impedes the rational design of the next generation of tailored zeolites.
Multiple characterization methods have been explored and developed for mapping the pore architecture inside zeolites with high spatial resolution, including FIB-SEM, TEM and X-ray nanotomography.[4-6] However, none of these techniques can easily scan the whole interior volume of micron-sized zeolite crystals and simultaneously provide (sub-) nanometer scale pore information without sample destruction. This project aims to exploit the pore structure inside single zeolite crystals in a non-destructive way with unprecedented detail. In addition, the diffusion properties of molecules exploring the zeolite pore network will be monitored. This powerful combo could open up new vistas on zeolite porosity and their diffusional consequences.
 Karger, J. et al., Nature Materials 13, 333 (2014).
 Buurmans, I. L. C., Weckhuysen, B. M., Nature Chemistry 4, 873 (2014).
 Valtchev, V., et al., Chem. Soc. Rev. 42, 263 (2013).
 Karwacki, L. et al., Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 50, 1294 (2011).
 Wei, Y., et al., Chem. Soc. Rev. 44, 7234 (2015).
 Meirer, F., et al., J. Am. Chem. Soc. 137, 102 (2015).