Molecular sieve (also called as synthesized zeolite) is a kind of silica-aluminates with micro-porous crystal. It is a frame-work which is constructed by SiO2 and Al2O3.
Type 3A molecular sieves should be used to dry dehydration solvents for electron microscopy. Most common solvents (acetone, ethanol, and methanol, etc.) need to be anhydrous for electron microscopy embedding work using epoxy resins, yet they have a tendency to pick up atmospheric water when bottles are opened. Molecular sieves are used to dehydrate the solvents used in the final stages of dehydration and embedding . Molecular sieves are typically zeolite compounds that strongly adsorb water and have carefully controlled pore sizes.
- 3A (pore size 3 Å): Adsorbs NH3, H2O, (not C2H6), good for drying polar liquids.
- 4A (pore size 4 Å): Adsorbs H2O, CO2, SO2, H2S, C2H4, C2H6, C3H6, ethanol. Will not adsorb C3H8 and higher hydrocarbons. Good for drying nonpolar liquids and gases.
- 5A (pore size 5 Å): Adsorbs normal (linear) hydrocarbons to n-C4H10, alcohols to C4H9OH, mercaptans to C4H9SH. Will not adsorb isocompounds or rings greater than C4.
- 10X (pore size 8 Å): Adsorbs branched hydrocarbons and aromatics. Useful for drying gases.
- 13X (pore size 10 Å): Adsorbs di-n-butylamine (not tri-n-butylamine). Useful for drying HMPA.