Simply put, metal-organic frameworks are compounds of metal ions and organic molecules that form structured frameworks. These advanced materials can be compared with sponges with unique abilities – being able to take-up, hold and release molecules from their pores. Therefore, metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) are the fastest growing class of materials in chemistry today. By fast, we mean more than 20 000 MOFs have been found in the last 20 years.
Surface area of up to 7 000 sqm per gram
With a highly-ordered framework of pores, metal-organic frameworks exhibit the largest surface areas per gram known to man – one gram of MOF can have a surface area comparable to a FIFA soccer field. That is up to 7 000 sqm surface per 1 gram of MOF material. The large surface area offers more space for chemical reactions and adsorption of molecules. But this is not the only reason for the growing engagement of industries and academia towards metal-organic frameworks.
Free choice of building blocks
The building blocks of the framework – metals and organic linkers – can be combined in almost infinite ways to create novel materials. Therefore, unique structural characteristics can be achieved by tuning the basic materials according to their specified application. As a rule of thumb, MOFs outperform other materials by a factor of 10.
Uniform structures, adjustable porosity and a wide variety of chemical functionalities offer solutions to various industries and to many applications.