Direct Observation of Luminescent Silver Clusters Confined in Faujasite Zeolites

Thomas Altantzis, Eduardo Coutino-Gonzalez, Wouter Baekelant, Gerardo T. Martinez, Artem M. Abakumov, Gustaaf Van Tendeloo, Maarten B.J. Roeffaers, Sara Bals, Johan Hofkens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)


One of the ultimate goals in the study of metal clusters is the correlation between the atomic-scale organization and their physicochemical properties. However, direct observation of the atomic organization of such minuscule metal clusters is heavily hindered by radiation damage imposed by the different characterization techniques. We present direct evidence of the structural arrangement, at an atomic level, of luminescent silver species stabilized in faujasite (FAU) zeolites using aberration-corrected scanning transmission electron microscopy. Two different silver clusters were identified in Ag-FAU zeolites, a trinuclear silver species associated with green emission and a tetranuclear silver species related to yellow emission. By combining direct imaging with complementary information obtained from X-ray powder diffraction and Rietveld analysis, we were able to elucidate the main differences at an atomic scale between luminescent (heat-treated) and nonluminescent (cation-exchanged) Ag-FAU zeolites. It is expected that such insights will trigger the directed synthesis of functional metal nanocluster-zeolite composites with tailored luminescent properties.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7604-7611
Number of pages8
JournalACS Nano
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 23 Aug 2016


  • nanoporous materials
  • novel phosphors
  • Rietveld analysis
  • self-assembly


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