New paper in Advanced Materials – Synthesis of 2D porous crystalline materials in simulated microgravity

New paper in Advanced Materials – Synthesis of 2D porous crystalline materials in simulated microgravity

4 Jun 2021

New publication in Advanced Materials journal entitled “Synthesis of 2D porous crystalline materials in simulated microgravity” authored by Noemí Contreras-Pereda as a first author, in collaboration with Dr. Josep Puigmartí-Luis from the Materials Science and Physical Chemistry department at the Universitat de Barcelona (UB).

How to achieve simulated microgravity conditions on Earth? This has been the question enquired by the authors of this recent paper published with the aim of growing and processing 2D porous crystalline molecular frameworks in simulated microgravity.

In this work, the authors have shown an easy way to achieve space-like experimentation conditions on Earth employing a custom-made microfluidic device to fabricate 2D crystalline molecular frameworks. The results presented confirm that experimentation under simulated microgravity conditions has unprecedented effects on the controlled growth of 2D crystalline molecular frameworks. Homogeneous and large thin films formed by either metal-organic or covalent bonds could be obtained in a wide variety of substrates with high control on their crystalline orientation. Furthermore, the authors have proved that these simulated microgravity conditions can open new routes to straightforwardly study properties such as the anisotropy of conductivity in 2D conductive crystalline molecular frameworks. Without any doubt, this work will provide a new “playground” to chemists, physicists and materials scientists that want to generate unprecedented 2D functional materials and devices.

Recently, groundbreaking studies at the International Space Station clearly confirmed the favorable effect of microgravity on the growth of crystalline matter. It has been demonstrated that the convection-free mass transport occurring in microgravity conditions can greatly favor the synthesis of materials with larger crystalline domain sizes, lower defect densities and new morphologies. However, the high costs and restricted access to experimentation in space have hindered efforts to study and control the engineering of crystalline porous molecular frameworks under these synthetic conditions. The authors demonstrated that microfluidic devices can simulate on Earth the effect of the microgravity in space experimentation. They used this microfluidic approach to control the synthesis and growth of a prototypal conductive 2D MOF (Ni3(HITP)2, where HITP stands for 2, 3, 6, 7, 10, 11-hexaiminotriphenylene).

ABSTRACT: To date, crystallization studies conducted in space laboratories, which are prohibitively costly and unsuitable to most research laboratories, have shown the valuable effects of microgravity during crystal growth and morphogenesis. Herein, an easy and highly efficient method is shown to achieve space-like experimentation conditions on Earth employing custom-made microfluidic devices to fabricate 2D porous crystalline molecular frameworks. It is confirmed that experimentation under these simulated microgravity conditions has unprecedented effects on the orientation, compactness and crack-free generation of 2D porous crystalline molecular frameworks as well as in their integration and crystal morphogenesis. It is believed that this work will provide a new “playground” to chemists, physicists, and materials scientists that desire to process unprecedented 2D functional materials and devices.

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