; “Science on the European Soyuz Missions and the International Space Station (2001-2005)” location:Toledo date:27-30 June
The Silicate-1 zeolite is a silicon dioxide polymorph that can be synthesised by self-organization of Silicalite-1 nanoslabs in suspension. Nanoslabs are discrete colloidally bound particles, measuring typically 4 x 4 x 1.3 nm, and having already the framework connectivity of the Silicalite-1 zeolite. The influence of microgravity conditions on the kinetic parameters has previously been studied by sounding rocket experiments (MAXUS 4 and MAXUS 5). A strong retardation of the aggregation rate of the nanoscopic entities was observed under microgravity as compared to gravity. This unexpected observation motivated us to undertake further studies which led to the discovery of the formation of ordered liquid phases prior to particle aggregation. The NANOSLAB and ZEOGRID experiments performed aboard ISS during the Odissea and Cervantes missions support the assumption that the previously observed retardation is due to the effect of microgravity on these collectives.
The discovery of the collective nanoslab phases and their importance during the self-organization into bulk material already has been exploited in the design of new materials by the directed re-organization of the collectives4.
The results of these two microgravity experiments and their impact on material design will be discussed and an outlook on the currently intensified research campaign will be given.