Public Relations & Press Office
Press Release
Athens, 1 February 2012
Collaboration of NCSR Demokritos with a distinguished team from the University of Minnesota

One more prestigious distinction for Greek scientists was published just before the end of 2011. Research of Prof. Michael Tsapatsis from the University of Minnesota and his team on zeolitic membranes was selected by Science magazine as one of the ten “Science Breakthrough of the Year and Runners-Up, 2011”.

Zeolites, known for over 250 years, belong to the family of inorganic porous solids with a wide range of applications in catalysis, e.g. conversion of heavy hydrocarbon to lighter and more volatile ones, in molecular separation of gases and liquids, e.g. air and water purification, and many more. Prof. Tsapatsis team from the department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science of the University of Minnesota discovered novel ways to control and modify the pores of zeolites and fabricate ultra-thin zeolitic membranes, opening new horizons in the chemical industry for more energy-efficient and faster processes with lower cost and reduced environmental impact.

The technique is based on fabrication of zeolite nanosheets, i.e two dimensional zeolites with a thickness of only a few nanometers (billions of a meter), by exfoliation of the bulk material, controlled deposition on porous substrates, and secondary growth to form a uniform, defect-free zeolite coating with a thickness of the order of 200 nm (see Figure). Science magazine selected this discovery as one of the “Breakthrough of the Year and Runners-Up, 2011” with the characteristic title: “Zeolites continue to surprise” (, while particular attention was given by the american media (e.g. ABC News

NCSR Demokritos has been holding systematic collaboration for almost 5 years with Prof. Tsapatsis group on fabrication, optimization, and applications of zeolitic membranes, though the participation of Dr. George Karanikolos, ex post-doc of the team and currently a Marie Curie reintegrated scientist at the Institute of Physical Chemistry. Prof. Tsapatsis was an invited speaker on June 29th, 2011 for the celebration for 50 years of NCSR Demokritos, where he presented part of his work on zeolitic membranes.

For the NCSR Demokritos

The National Center for Scientific Research (NCSR) "Demokritos" is the largest multidisciplinary research center in the country with substantial scientific research, technological and educational activities in the areas of: Health, Biology and Biotechnology, New Materials Micro & Nanotechnology, Environment - Energy and Sustainable Development, Information Technology & Telecommunications, Nuclear Physics & Elementary Particle Physics, Nuclear Technology & Radiation Protection, Cultural Heritage. All the activities are coordinated by the eight Institutes of the Center: 1) Biology, 2) Materials Science, 3) Microelectronics,4) Computer and Telecommunications, 5) Nuclear Engineering and Radiological, 6) Nuclear Physics, 7) Chemistry, 8) Radioisotopes and Radiopharmaceuticals

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