The chemistry of porous frameworks (MOFs, COFs, ZIFs etc) has lived through a renaissance in recent years, sparked to a large extent by the prospect of exceptionally high surface areas, high gas storage and separation capabilities and their potential in catalysis and sensing. The frameworks are built up from organic “linkers” (COFs) and metal “nodes” (MOFs, ZIFs), the chemical diversity of which allowing for a fine-tuning of the frameworks’ chemical and physical properties by design. The tailored synthesis of inherently functional building blocks opens up avenues to novel framework materials not only with improved porosities and diverse framework topologies, but added functionality and improved gas storage and separation capacities. In addition, by molding these materials into specific shapes and downsizing their dimension to the nanoscale, one will be able to boost the versatility and applicability of porous frameworks in a variety of applications requiring control of chemical composition, shape, and dimensions.
Along these lines we develop new organic and metal-organic framework architectures with enhanced property profiles for application as single-site heterogeneous catalysts, optoelectronic and gas storage materials. In addition,we envisage the development of a colloidal chemistry – or “nanochemistry” – of porous frameworks. Our approach is predicated on the control of nucleation and growth in the nanocrystal regime and geared towards an understanding of the concept of porosity in diminishing dimensions. Ultimately, our objective is to employ soft chemistry methods (sol-gel chemistry, colloidal chemistry) as well as nanofabrication strategies (soft lithography and other patterning techniques) for the design of functional nanostructures based on porous framework materials, such as gas sensors and photonic crystals.