Monitoring MOFs

Ever wanted to monitor your MOF synthesis on the cheap? Look no further, because Felicity’s Open Access paper describing how MOF scale-up can be improved using an open source, multi-channel monitor – all built for less than $100 – is now out in Scientific Reports! She used simultaneous temperature, turbidity, pH, and visible light absorbance to track the formation of STA-16(Ni), observing the reaction critical processes that guided the development of a faster and more efficient synthesis route to material with comparable porosity.

The work was performed while Felicity was a Part II student in Oxford during her project at Johnson Matthey, co-supervised by Tim Johnson, Stephen Poulson and Stephen Bennett.

New year, new arrivals

This month we are joined by Harry Lloyd and Aaron Chambers, who will be starting two exciting, collaborative PhD projects in the group!

Harry is studying time-resolved dynamics of framework materials under electric fields on a joint Diamond Light Source PhD studentship. He’ll be co-supervised by Dr Lucy Saunders and Dr Mark Warren from Diamond, where he’ll spend two years getting hands-on at Beamline I19-1!

Aaron is studying the formation and processing of MOF nanoparticle composites as part of a collaboration initiative between the University of Birmingham and BAM, the Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing, Berlin. He’ll be co-supervised by Dr Brian Pauw from BAM, where he’ll visit to perform 3-D printing and in-depth structural characterisation.

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.