News

Sensing the strain, quickly

When metal–organic frameworks (MOFs) adsorb small molecules their structures often change, sometimes really noticeably, sometimes in such small ways that it’s hard to see. In a collaboration with Kota Shiba, Genki Yoshikawa and Kosuke Minami at the National Institute for Materials Science, Japan, we put MOF nanoparticles on a unique sensor device, the membrane-type surface stress sensor (MSS), by inkjet printing and spray-coating, and found that the MSS can detect these changes really well. The volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that we tested can be detected even at parts-per-million levels (one hundred times more dilute that CO2). The response is different for different VOCs and different MOFs, which enables them to be easily discriminated. What’s more, because of the high external surface area of the MOF nanoparticles, the response of the MOF-MSS sensor is really quick–– it takes just seconds to get a reading. This could make such technology really useful for real-time monitoring of chemical processes or biomarkers in healthcare.

The paper, “Strain-based chemical sensing using metal–organic framework nanoparticles” is published in the Journal of Materials Chemistry A. See our publications for more details.

Diamond PhD studentship

We’re really excited to offer a PhD studentship for 2020 joint with Diamond Light Source, the UK’s national synchrotron facility!

The project is funded for 4 years and the student will spend 2 years at Birmingham, 2 years at Diamond, where they will investigate how the structures of functional materials – including metal–organic frameworks and molecular ferroelectrics – change with applied electric fields.

The student will gain cutting-edge skills in materials synthesis, time-resolved single crystal X-ray diffraction and physical property measurement.

Please see the link above for more information and to register interest. Contact Hamish for any other enquiries.