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Keywords:

  • computer simulations;
  • defects;
  • electron microscopy;
  • surfaces;
  • zeolites

Abstract

High-resolution electron microscopy (HREM) has been used to image the surface structure of nano- and micrometer-sized synthetic crystals of zeolite-Linde-L (LTL). Columnar holes and rotational, nano-sized, wheel-like defects were observed within the crystals, where the hole has a minimum size equal to that of the rotational defect. Predictions of surface structure from atomistic computer simulation concur with the observations from HREM and provide insight into the crystal growth mechanism of perfect and defective LTL. Analysis of the energetics of the formation of rotational defect structures reveals that the driving force for defect creation is thermodynamic and furthermore, the rotational defects could be created in high concentrations. Formation of a columnar hole is found to be slightly energetically unfavourable and therefore we speculate that the incidence of both rotational and nano-sized vacancy defects is strongly dependent on kinetic factors and reaction conditions. The morphology of nano- and microcrystalline LTL is contradistinct and we use insights from simulation to propose an explanation of the disparity in crystal shape.