S. Sabnis, V. A. Tanna, J. Gulbinski, J. Zhu, S. S. Nonnenmann, G. Sheng, Z. Lai, H. H. Winter, W. Fan
Microporous and Mesoporous Materials, 110883, (2021)
Two-dimensional (2D) zeolites have the potential to enhance mass transport by reducing diffusion lengths and thus find applications in catalysis and separation. High aspect ratio 2D zeolite nanosheets are required for fabrication of thin, high-flux zeolite membranes. Preparation of 2D zeolite nanosheets can be achieved by exfoliation of layered zeolite precursors, which usually requires multiple steps including swelling with cationic surfactants, exfoliation by applying a mechanical force such as shearing or sonication, purification and removal of the surfactants. The exfoliation of surfactant swollen layered zeolite precursors has been studied using molten polystyrene and telechelic liquid polybutadiene, but still requires extensive shearing force. Recently, a novel one-step exfoliation method has been developed for non-swollen MWW zeolite precursors using tetrabutylammonium hydroxide (TBAOH) solution. In this work, we study the exfoliation of surfactant swollen MWW layered precursors (with and without aluminum) in commercially available liquid hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene (HTPB) with the aim to provide fundamental understanding of the interaction between the liquid polybutadiene and the surfactant swollen layered zeolite precursors. It was found that surfactant swollen ITQ-1, (ITQ-1(S)), a pure silica layered precursor with MWW framework after being swollen with a cationic surfactant, can be exfoliated in liquid HTPB at room temperature without applying any additional shearing force. The aluminum containing surfactant swollen MWW precursors can be also exfoliated in HTPB at room temperature, but require additional shearing forces. The exfoliation process was monitored using rheology experiments and studied by tuning the composition of the zeolite precursors. The interaction between the layered zeolite precursor and the hydroxyl group of the liquid polybutadiene allows the polymer to intercalate the precursor and exfoliate it into nanosheets. The presence of framework aluminum and the nature of the organic structure directing agents (OSDAs) are key parameters affecting the exfoliation process. Framework Al is unfavorable for the exfoliation possibly due to the surface charges introduced by the aluminum. Bulky OSDA, trimethyladamantammonium (TMAda+), in the interlayer spacing may facilitate the exfoliation.