Metal organic frameworks (MOFs) — honeycomb-like structures of metal ions and organic linkers— have exceptionally large surface areas and porosities that scientists have exploited for various applications, such as industrial carbon capture, fuel storage and harvesting water from the air. Recently, MOFs were also found to conduct electrical charge, opening doors to new applications, according to a cover story in Chemical & Engineering News, an independent news outlet of the American Chemical Society.
The idea that MOFs could be electrically conductive has flown under the radar until recently, writes Senior Correspondent Mitch Jacoby. Scientists are now discovering that MOFs can conduct charge through multiple mechanisms. For example, charge can move through a network of bonds between metal centers and functional groups in the organic linkers. Studying the ways that MOFs conduct charge could help chemists boost the materials’ conductivity and understand how to make them perform better in various charge-based applications.
MOFs’ enormous surface areas could allow them to outperform other charge-conducting materials, such as activated carbon, that are currently used in fuel cells and electronic sensors. For instance, a collaboration between Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers and the Italian sports car manufacturer Lamborghini has produced MOF-based supercapacitors to power an all-electric concept muscle car. Other researchers have used MOFs’ conductive properties to develop chemical sensors for toxic gases or neurotransmitters, or to catalyze electroreduction reactions to make syngas. Now that MOFs have revealed their new trick, scientists are eager to fully explore the potential of the versatile materials.
The article, “Conducting charge is MOFs’ new trick,” is freely available here.
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