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17 May 2007

New generation of super-thin materials

'Flat zeolites' have multiple uses in industry

SCIENTISTS at MMU are developing a new generation of material catalysts used for refining and purifying liquids.

Research with the Max Planck Society, backed by the EPSRC and Leverhulme Trust, promises greater efficiency and ‘greener’ performance for a host of industrial processes.

MMU’s Advanced Materials Research Group believe that crystalline zeolites – porous mineral structures – will display new and exciting properties when made into very thin films.

The team have pioneered a new method to prepare such films, and can now routinely prepare thin films less than 100 nanometres thick (0.1 millionth of a metre).

Exciting phenomenon

Dr Aidan Doyle, who leads a six-strong team of zeolite investigators, said: "Thin zeolites are an exciting new phenomenon but this is really just the start of the research".

"Working with the Max Planck Society , we hope to find out a lot more about their properties and how they can be used. For instance, it will be possible to analyse zeolites at the atomic level for the first time using a range of powerful techniques. These nanomaterials will also show novel properties in semi-conduction and electronics".

Zeolites ‘filter’ enzymes and other elements from compounds and are used widespread in petrol refinement, industrial cleansing and household chemicals, such as washing powder.

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