A Gem of a Catalyst; August 1993; Scientific American Magazine; by Philip Yam; 1 Page(s)
Todorokite (pronounced "toh-doh-ROH-kite") rolls off the tongue like the name of a gemstone. It is really just a form of common manganese oxide. But to some chemists, it has all the panache of a precious mineral. They have for the first time been able to synthesize stable forms of the substance, which behaves in a manner similar to zeolites--industrially important compounds used in filtration and catalysis.
In nature, todorokites belong to a family of related compounds that are found on the ocean floor and in soils, appearing to the naked eye as small, black pellets. Like zeolites, natural substances of aluminum, silicon and oxygen that are now widely synthesized, todorokites contain a network of tunnels that can adsorb other compounds and later release them. "They act as molecular spaghetti strainers," says Steven L. Suib, a chemist at the University of Connecticut, who headed the team that made the substance.