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Templated interfacial synthesis of metal-organic framework (MOF) nano- and micro-structures with precisely controlled shapes and sizes
Communications Chemistry  (IF6.581),  Pub Date : 2021-06-03, DOI: 10.1038/s42004-021-00522-1
Lingyao Meng, Binyu Yu, Yang Qin

Metal-organic frameworks (MOF) are an emerging class of microporous materials with promising applications. MOF nanocrystals, and their assembled super-structures, can display unique properties and reactivities when compared with their bulk analogues. MOF nanostructures of 0-D, 2-D, and 3-D dimensions can be routinely obtained by controlling reaction conditions and ligand additives, while formation of 1-D MOF nanocrystals (nanowires and nanorods) and super-structures has been relatively rare. We report here a facile templated interfacial synthesis methodology for the preparation of a series of 1-D MOF nano- and micro-structures with precisely controlled shapes and sizes. Specifically, by applying track-etched polycarbonate (PCTE) membranes as the templates and at the oil/water interface, we rapidly and reproducibly synthesize zeolitic imidazolate framework-8 (ZIF-8) and ZIF-67 nano- and micro structures of sizes ranging from 10 nm to 20 μm. We also identify a size confinement effect on MOF crystal growth, which leads to single crystals under the most restricted conditions and inter-grown polycrystals at larger template pore sizes, as well as surface directing effects that influence the crystallographic preferred orientation. Our findings provide a potentially generalizable method for controlling the size, morphology, and crystal orientations of MOF nanomaterials, as well as offering fundamental understanding into MOF crystal growth mechanisms.