- Beamline set up on I15, Diamond’s extreme conditions beamline
The group found that by heating MOFs under argon, they were able to melt the material into a liquid that could then be cooled into a glass, with a chemical composition identical to the crystalline MOF. The new class of materials this process creates could help combine the absorbency and gas storage properties of MOFs with the structural malleability of glass and formability of the liquid phase.
Dr Thomas Bennett from the Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy at the University of Cambridge says: “Traditional methods used in melt-casting of metals or sintering of ceramics usually cause the structural collapse of MOFs due to the structures thermally degrading at low temperatures. Through exploring the interface between melting, recrystallisation and thermal decomposition, we should now be able to manufacture a variety of shapes and structures that were previously impossible, both expanding the range of applications for MOFs, and making those already existing more industrially relevant.”
The new hybrid glass materials are particularly useful because, by altering the elemental composition of the MOF prior to the heating and cooling process, it will be possible to alter the material’s properties and tailor its chemical functionality. This would result in ‘chemically designed’ glasses, useful for a vast range of different applications.
The new hybrid glass materials could impact on a vast range of different industrial sectors, due to the properties of the glasses themselves, or through utilisation of the solid-liquid transitions involved in their formation. There’s still work to be done, but the materials provide a new facet to existing metal-organic frameworks, and suggest that MOFs might be interesting for reasons other than their porosity.