Effect of Defect Site Preorganization on Fe(III) Grafting and Stability: A Comparative Study of Delaminated Zeolite vs. Amorphous Silica Supports


The stabilization of isolated grafted Fe3+ sites on siliceous supports is investigated by a comparative study of crystalline versus amorphous materials. Our synthetic approach treats crystalline delaminated zeolite DZ-1 and amorphous silica (SiO2) with an aqueous NaFeEDTA cation precursor complex, to result in grafting of isolated Fe3+ sites via covalent attachment to support hydroxyl groups. Thermogravimetric analysis and UV-visible spectroscopy demonstrate the complete detachment of chelating EDTA ligand upon Fe3+ grafting on both supports. Before calcination treatment, both Fe/DZ-1 and Fe/SiO2 have similar UV-visible spectral features, with absorption bands at 208-225 and 257 nm, characteristic of framework Fe3+ sites in zeolites. Calcination does not affect the UV-visible spectroscopic characteristics of Fe/DZ-1 but changes the spectrum of Fe/SiO2 to a single absorption band at 260 nm, indicating better thermal stability of Fe3+ sites in Fe/DZ-1 as compared to Fe/SiO2. This stability persists for Fe/DZ-1 even during alkane oxidation catalysis in the presence of hydrogen peroxide, which causes aggregation of Fe3+ into oxide oligomers for Fe/SiO2. 57Fe Mössbauer spectroscopy of calcined materials indicates a more uniform distribution of sites in Fe/DZ-1 relative to Fe/SiO2. We thus attribute the greater robustness and site uniformity of Fe/DZ-1 to the chelation of Fe3+ by the rigid crystalline silicate DZ-1 framework, engendered by the spatial preorganization of grafting hydroxyls groups within its uniform defect sites, which are templated by framework B3+ removal during delamination. Such preorganization enables cooperativity between neighboring hydroxyl groups. This contrasts with more randomly distributed hydroxyl groups on SiO2, which lack such preorganization, leading to decreased hydrothermal stability and an Fe3+ grafting density that is ~7-fold lower for Fe/SiO2 relative to Fe/DZ-1. These observations reveal how the silicate surface onto which a cation is grafted can act as a relevant ligand, capable of controlling material synthesis and functionality akin to ligands in homogeneous metal complexes, and demonstrate the advantages of support crystallinity in having this ligand be hydrothermally stable and tunable via templating.



Research Center/Lab(s)

Center for High Performance Computing Research

Keywords and Phrases

Absorption spectroscopy; Amorphous materials; Calcination; Chelation; Crystalline materials; Grafting (chemical); Ligands; Metal complexes; Positive ions; Silica; Silicates; Stability; Synthesis (chemical); Thermodynamic stability; Thermogravimetric analysis; Ultraviolet visible spectroscopy; Zeolites, Calcination treatment; Crystalline silicates; Hydrothermal stabilities; Randomly distributed; Spectroscopic characteristics; Ssbauer spectroscopies; Uniform distribution; UV visible spectroscopy, Iron compounds

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

0897-4756; 1520-5002

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


File Type





© 2017 American Chemical Society (ACS), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Aug 2017