Introduction to the Zeolite Structure-Directing Phenomenon by Organic Species: General Aspects

  • Luis Gómez-HortigüelaEmail author
  • Miguel Á. CamblorEmail author
Part of the Structure and Bonding book series (STRUCTURE, volume 175)


During the last years, a tremendous progress has been achieved in the application of new zeolite materials in many different sectors through different pioneering innovations in the field of zeolite synthesis. At the very core of the production of these new zeolite materials lies the use of organic species as structure-directing agents (SDA), which has been recognized as the most important factor to determine the zeolite product rendered after the crystallization process. These organic species organize the inorganic zeolitic units and drive the crystallization pathway towards the production of particular zeolite framework types. This structure-direction phenomenon frequently works in combination with several other factors related to the chemical composition of the synthesis gels, mainly use of fluoride, concentration (H2O/T ratio), and presence of different heteroatoms, which are also relevant for the crystallization of particular zeolite materials. Several properties determine the structure-directing effect of these organic species, especially their molecular size and shape, hydrophobicity, rigidity vs flexibility, and hydrothermal stability. The properties of the zeolitic materials synthesized can be tuned up to a certain point through the use of rationally selected organic species with particular physico-chemical features as SDA. In this introductory chapter, we briefly review the history of the use of organic cations as SDAs, and give the fundaments of the different aspects related to this structure-direction phenomenon and factors affecting it, explaining the main properties of SDAs, providing some examples of recent uses and trends of organic SDAs, as well as the host–guest chemistry involved. In addition, we pay particular attention to the use of imidazolium-based organic cations as SDAs because of their current relevance in the synthesis of new zeolite materials.


Host–guest Imidazolium Structure-directing agents Templates Zeolites 



Funding from the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry, and Competitiveness (through projects MAT2015-65767-P and MAT2015-71117-R) is acknowledged.


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Instituto de Catálisis y Petroleoquímica (ICP-CSIC)MadridSpain
  2. 2.Instituto de Ciencia de Materiales de Madrid (ICMM-CSIC)MadridSpain

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