Molecular Vise Approach to Coordinate Metals

(Research breakthrough reported by Deng’s groups)

Scientists in Wuhan University found a new way to bind metals in a controllable manner using metal-organic frameworks, reported on the recent issue of Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., and these nano-materials are good for the fast detection of biomarkers in urine without the use of sophisticated instruments.

Molecular constructs are highly desirable in various applications such as nanomachines, nanorobots, drug delivery, catalysis and biomolecule detection. However, molecular constructs were usually synthesized in solution phase rather than solid-state phase. In this report, a research group led by Hexiang Deng at Wuhan university show that a “molecular vise” can be created inside metal-organic frameworks to provide customized binding site for metal ions, and forming the so called “MV-MOFs”. This was achieve by replacing a tetra-topic organic linker with a pair of mono-topic and tri-topic linker, where the length of the mono-topic linker can be precisely adjusted, thus provide a controlled coordination environment for metals with the amine on the tri-topic linker. The mono-topic linker resembles the moving part of the vise, while the tri-topic linker fixed by three secondary building units (SBUs) in MOFs resembles the stationary part.

This “molecular vise” was taking the advantage of ordered arrangement of SBUs in MOFs, thus the coordination environment can be adjusted without affecting the geometry of coordinating linkers. This unique feature cannot be found in any other systems. A large variety of organic linkers, functional groups and metals can be introduces to customize the metal binding site. These MV-MOFs can also been made in the form of nanocrystals, where the diffusion of chemicals was favored. One of these nano-MV-MOFs was successfully used in the detection of biomarkers such as cysteine with extremely high sensitivity, by simply using UV lamp to observe the fluorescent decay. These MOFs were also prepared into test papers that are easy to store and transfer for remote areas, where sophisticated instruments are lack.

This work was conducted in College of Chmistry & Molecular Sciences of Wuhan University, led by Prof. Hexiang Deng. Yang Wang and Qi Liu are the co-first authors of this publications. Qin Zhang and Bosi Peng also made significant contributions. This research was supported by the 1000 Talent Plan of China, National Natural Science Foundation of China (21471118, 91545205, 91622103), National Science Foundation of Jiangsu Province of China (ZXG201446, BK20140410), National Key Basic Research Program of China (2014CB239203), Key Program of Hubei Provence (2015CFA126) and Innovation Team of Wuhan University (2042017kf0232).

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