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Nature. 2001 Aug 16;412(6848):720-4.

A titanosilicate molecular sieve with adjustable pores for size-selective adsorption of molecules.

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  • 1Strategic Technology Group, Engelhard Corporation, 101 Wood Avenue, Iselin, New Jersey 08830, USA.


Zeolites and related crystalline microporous oxides-tetrahedrally coordinated atoms covalently linked into a porous framework-are of interest for applications ranging from catalysis to adsorption and ion-exchange. In some of these materials (such as zeolite rho) adsorbates, ion-exchange, and dehydration and cation relocation can induce strong framework deformations. Similar framework flexibility has to date not been seen in mixed octahedral/tetrahedral microporous framework materials, a newer and rapidly expanding class of molecular sieves. Here we show that the framework of the titanium silicate ETS-4, the first member of this class of materials, can be systematically contracted through dehydration at elevated temperatures to 'tune' the effective size of the pores giving access to the interior of the crystal. We show that this so-called 'molecular gate' effect can be used to tailor the adsorption properties of the materials to give size-selective adsorbents suitable for commercially important separations of gas mixtures of molecules with similar size in the 4.0 to 3.0 A range, such as that of N2/CH4, Ar/O2 and N2/O2.

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