TEM Investigation of Formation Mechanism of Monocrystal-Thick <i>b</i>-Oriented Pure Silica Zeolite MFI Film

The first direct transmission electron microscopic (TEM) observation has been carried out on the continuous monocrystal-thick <i>b</i>-oriented pure silica zeolite MFI films produced by in situ crystallization. The self-supporting film samples for TEM study were fabricated by dissolving the steel substrate with acid. This TEM study is free of those artifacts that are typically associated with TEM sample preparations, and allows us to investigate the “true” structure and texture of a very large area of the film and at the same time to focus at will on each individual zeolite crystal in the film. Abundant TEM information including crystallographic orientation relationships among crystals in the film (both out-of-plane and in-plane), grain boundaries, and each crystal grain was obtained. This TEM investigation provides direct unambiguous new evidence to support the homogeneous nucleation mechanism, by which the films form through homogeneous nucleation and crystal growth in the bulk to form equal-sized disk-shape crystals, followed by self-assembly of these crystals onto the substrate to produce a two-dimensional close-packed structure. The last stage of the film formation involves simultaneous space-limited growth and rotation of the individual crystals to realize the in-plane crystallographic control within the film.