The application of a variety of “surface-science” techniques to elucidate surface structures and mechanisms of chemical reactions at zeolite surfaces has long been considered as almost impossible because of the poor electrical and thermal conductivity of those materials. Here, we show that the growth of a thin aluminosilicate film on a metal single crystal under controlled conditions results in adequate and well-defined model systems for zeolite surfaces. In principle, silicate films that contain metals other than Al (e.g. Ti, Fe, etc) may be prepared in a similar way. We believe that this approach opens up a new playground for experimental and theoretical modeling of zeolites, aimed at a fundamental understanding of structure–reactivity relationships in such materials.
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