Supramolecular chemistry, aka chemistry beyond the molecule, in which molecules and molecular complexes are held together by non-covalent bonds, is just beginning to come into its own with the emergence of nanotechnology. Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) are commanding much of the attention because of their appetite for greenhouse gases, but a new player has joined the field – supramolecular organic frameworks (SOFs). Users at the Molecular Foundry have unveiled the first two-dimensional SOFs that self-assemble in solution, an important breakthrough that holds implications for sensing and separation technologies, energy sciences, and, perhaps most importantly, biomimetics.
"We've demonstrated the first soluble single-layer 2D honeycomb SOF that combines the ordering and porous features of MOFs with the solubility of supramolecular polymers," says Yi Liu, a chemist within the Foundry's Organic and Macromolecular Synthesis Facility. "The results prove that we can exercise precise control of dimensionality within structures through a solution-based supramolecular approach, which paves the way for the assembly of more advanced architectures that can be processed in solution."