The new metal-organic framework could help advance semiconductors


June 28, 2023

(Nanowerk NewsA team of Clemson University chemists have built a new two-dimensional electrically conductive metal-organic framework (MOF), a breakthrough that could help advance modern electronics and energy technologies.

The team’s findings are published in a journal Applied chemistry (“Electrically Conductive π-Intercalated Graphic Metal-Organic Framework Contains Alternative π-Donor/Acceptor Stacks”).

MOFs are nano-sized architectures, which resemble miniature buildings made of metal ions linked by organic ligands. The structure is mostly hollow and porous with an extraordinary amount of internal surface space. Consequently, MOFs can store guest molecules, catalyze chemical reactions, and deliver drugs in a controlled manner.

Certain MOFs can even conduct electricity, making them a potential next-generation semiconductor.

“We needed new semiconductor materials for electronics and energy technology, and this class of materials has shown great potential,” said Sourav Saha, a professor in the Department of Chemistry, who led the research. “These materials (MOF) are much easier to synthesize, process, and tune their electronic and optical properties than traditional inorganic semiconductors.”

Biggest obstacle

The biggest barrier to obtaining high frame conductivity is its porosity.

“It’s very challenging to make porous materials conduct electricity because charges don’t flow through pores or empty space,” said Saha. “It is the holy grail. That’s the main challenge on the pitch.”

Chemists adopt different strategies to make these materials conduct electricity. Charges can flow through chemical bonds or through narrow gaps between organic ligands.

“Typically, most of these electrically conducting MOFs have a conduction path through bonds or through space. What we have achieved here is to combine these two paths into one 2D material,” he said.

More conductivity

New MOFs have 10 to 15 times higher conductivity than parent MOFs which do not have efficient out-of-plane conduction paths.

“Dr. Saha’s work helps deliver on the promise that metal-organic framework materials offer advances in a variety of technologies, including batteries, solar cells, and chemical and pharmaceutical production. His ingenious introduction to electrical conductivity in open-frame materials is a tour-de-force of molecular design. It’s very exciting to see this advancement emerge from the Clemson research company,” said Stephen Creager, dean and professor of chemistry in the College of Science.


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