Breakthrough material could benefit alternative energy market

Breakthrough material could benefit alternative energy market
Researchers in the US claim to have created one of the most porous materials known to date.

The University of Pittsburgh team believes the novel substance could be used to better control the delivery of pharmaceuticals into the human body, or be used to control the storage of voluminous quantities of gas molecules for use in alternative energy solutions.

To create the material, the researchers began working with metal-organic frameworks - crystalline compounds comprising metal cluster vertices, linked together by organic molecules to form one, two, or three dimensional porous structures.

According to principal investigator Professor Nathaniel Rosi, from the university's Department of Chemistry, the team addressed changing the size of the metal cluster rather than the length of the organic molecule links. This, he says, resulted in the largest metal organic framework pore volume reported to date.

"The metal clusters are your joints, and the organic molecules are your linkers," Prof Rosi explained. "In order to build a highly open structure with lots of empty space, you can increase the linker length or you can increase the size of the joint. We developed chemistry to make large joints, or vertices, and showed that we could link these together to build a material with extraordinarily large pores for this class of materials."

Rosi believes this new approach could have an impact on storing large quantities of gas such as carbon dioxide or methane, an important development for alternative energy. "It could also be used to store large amounts of drug molecules, which could impact the drug delivery field," he concluded.

Laura Hopperton

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