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Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) are a special class of sponge-like materials with nano-sized pores. The nanopores lead to record-breaking internal surface areas, up to 7800 m2 in a single gram. This feature makes MOFs extremely versatile materials with multiple uses, such as separating petrochemicals and gases, mimicking DNA, hydrogen production and removing heavy metals, fluoride anions, and even gold from water—to name a few.
One of the key features is pore size. MOFs and other porous materials are classified based on the diameter of their pores: MOFs with pores up to 2 nanometers in diameter are called "microporous," and anything above that is called "mesoporous." Most MOFs today are microporous, so they are not useful in applications that require them to capture large molecules or catalyze reactions between them—basically, the molecules don't fit the pores.
MOFs - Play - Lot - Promise - Applications
So more recently, mesoporous MOFs have come into play, because they show a lot of promise in large-molecule applications. Still, they aren't problem-free: When the pore sizes get into the mesoporous regime, they tend to collapse. Understandably, this reduces the internal surface area of mesoporous MOFs and, with that, their overall usefulness. Since a major focus in the field is finding innovative ways to maximize MOF surface areas and pore sizes, addressing the collapsing problem is top priority.
Now, Dr. Li Peng a postdoc at EPFL Valais Wallis has...
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