Constructing Supramolecular Architectures

Remember those construction toys where you have interlocking pieces of nodes and plastic rods that can be put together to form a variety of architectural structures? Metal organic frameworks, or MOFs, are like the chemist’s version of these construction toys with metals acting as the nodes and organic molecules acting like the plastic rods to link the metals. Using these building blocks, large frameworks can be created with properties from both the metallic and organic components of the MOF.

MOF Schematics

Schematics of 2D and 3D metal organic frameworks where the gold balls represent metal nodes and blue balls represent organic linkers.

One important aspect of MOFs is that they are designed to be porous – they should have open spaces throughout the framework so that the properties designed into the framework are accessible. One way to design porous MOFs is to make them with large, rigid organic linkers like triptycene (1) or pentiptycene (2). Angela, a recent PhD graduate from our group, designed new triptycene and pentiptycene-based molecules that were suitable for making MOFs and made zinc-containing MOFs with pentiptycene linkers. Although these new MOFs are not porous, the work shows a promising route to incorporating these bulky molecules into future frameworks.

iptycenes

Check out Angela’s framework structures here and to see some other supramolecular structures our group has made, see our post on Nick and Veronica’s anion-templated macrocycles.

-Debbie

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