Nucleation and Crystal Growth
The initial stages of solids formation from solution are very elusive processes, and the “birth” of a solid particle, the nucleation, is almost impossible to detect. One the other hand, nucleation has important consequences on the properties of the particles which are obtained as the end result of a precipitation reaction As solution based synthetic procedures are of very high importance in the synthesis of solid catalysts, part of the activities of the department are devoted to the study of fundamental aspects of nucleation processes. A rather versatile method for such studies is mass spectrometry. ESI mass spectrometry techniques are being developed to obtain insight in the processes occurring in zeolite synthesis solutions. It has been found that immediately before solids formation, structural elements of the zeolites are already present as solution species. These technqiues are extended to other systems.