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Metal–Organic Frameworks as Platforms for Functional Materials


Discoveries of novel functional materials have played very important roles to the development of science and technologies and thus to benefit our daily life. Among the diverse materials, metal–organic framework (MOF) materials are rapidly emerging as a unique type of porous and organic/inorganic hybrid materials which can be simply self-assembled from their corresponding inorganic metal ions/clusters with organic linkers, and can be straightforwardly characterized by various analytical methods. In terms of porosity, they are superior to other well-known porous materials such as zeolites and carbon materials; exhibiting extremely high porosity with surface area up to 7000 m2/g, tunable pore sizes, and metrics through the interplay of both organic and inorganic components with the pore sizes ranging from 3 to 100 Å, and lowest framework density down to 0.13 g/cm3. Such unique features have enabled metal–organic frameworks to exhibit great potentials for a broad range of applications in gas storage, gas separations, enantioselective separations, heterogeneous catalysis, chemical sensing and drug delivery. On the other hand, metal–organic frameworks can be also considered as organic/inorganic self-assembled hybrid materials, we can take advantages of the physical and chemical properties of both organic and inorganic components to develop their functional optical, photonic, and magnetic materials. Furthermore, the pores within MOFs can also be utilized to encapsulate a large number of different species of diverse functions, so a variety of functional MOF/composite materials can be readily synthesized.In this Account, we describe our recent research progress on pore and function engineering to develop functional MOF materials. We have been able to tune and optimize pore spaces, immobilize specific functional groups, and introduce chiral pore environments to target MOF materials for methane storage, light hydrocarbon separations, enantioselective recognitions, carbon dioxide capture, and separations. The intrinsic optical and photonic properties of metal ions and organic ligands, and guest molecules and/or ions can be collaboratively assembled and/or encapsulated into their frameworks, so we have realized a series of novel MOF materials as ratiometric luminescent thermometers, O2 sensors, white-light-emitting materials, nonlinear optical materials, two-photon pumped lasing materials, and two-photon responsive materials for 3D patterning and data storage.Thanks to the interplay of the dual functionalities of metal–organic frameworks (the inherent porosity, and the intrinsic physical and chemical properties of inorganic and organic building blocks and encapsulated guest species), our research efforts have led to the development of functional MOF materials beyond our initial imaginations.