How do MOFs form? How do guests move within them? Can we control flow on the nanoscale?
These are the questions that our research tries to answer. Using a combination of synthetic, photochemical, spectroscopic and analytical tools, we both design and make new, light-responsive metal-organic frameworks, and modify known ones to make them light-responsive.
Using solvothermal syntheses, we make known and new MOFs. Understanding what is happening in the early stages requires in-situ analyses, including combined solid- and liquid-state 'CLASSIC-NMR' and SAXS measurements.
Making a new material is exciting. Every new material has to be characterised fully. If we're looking at the dynamic behaviour of guests, we need to measure single-crystals by in-situ methods in the presence of the guest, whether gas, liquid or in solution. If it is a photoresponsive framework, this can mean developing new methods for collecting data on light-sensitive samples. We use synchrotron infrared experiments and spectroscopic techniques to better understand our materials on all timescales, from picoseconds to hours.
The photoresponsive frameworks we've made can be tricky to understand. Advanced photocrystallographic or spectroscopic methods are needed to work out what happens when light is absorbed by the MOFs. What photoprocess happens? How does that affect structure, both locally and across the whole crystal? What happens to guest molecules inside?