The microstructural evolution of precursors of ZSM-5 zeolite crystallized from a heterogeneous system using fumed silica, sodium aluminate and tetrapropylammonium ions as reagents is investigated. Entities previously described by Ren et al. (Chem. Mater. 2012, 24, 10, 1726-1737) as condensed aggregates, were extensively studied using scanning electron microscopy, and energy dispersive spectroscopy. It was observed that the condensed aggregates first comprise a core of nanocrystals that is enveloped by a shell of amorphous gel phase. During crystallization, the amorphous shell surrounding the core is converted into ZSM-5 crystals that grow to a film surrounding the core. The crystals in the film grow competitively with nutrients provided by the liquid phase from the surroundings, while the nanocrystals in the core show little or no signs of growth.
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