Scientists from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Sandia National Laboratories have added something new to a family of engineered, high-tech materials called metal-organic frameworks (MOFs): the ability to conduct electricity. This breakthrough—conductive MOFs—has the potential to make these already remarkable materials even more useful, particularly for detecting gases and toxic substances.
MOFs are three-dimensional crystalline materials with nanoscale pores made up of metal ions linked by various organic molecules. MOFs have huge surface areas, and scientists can easily control the size of their pores and how the pores interact with molecules by tinkering with their chemistries. These characteristics make them ideal for use as catalysts, membranes or sponges for gas storage or for drug delivery, among other applications.
Thousands of new MOF structures are discovered and characterized each year. While they come in a dizzying array of chemistries and structures, none of them conducts electricity well. The NIST/Sandia team developed a method to modify the electrical conductivity of MOF thin films and to control it over six orders of magnitude. Their findings will appear in the journal Science.
Via Alin Velea