Researchers from Sandia National Laboratories have created “Tinker Toys for chemists” by devising a new way to realize electrical conductivity in metal-organic framework (MOF) materials. The technique increases the property in one MOF by more than six orders of magnitude. While Tinker Toys connect by using sticks to link wood pieces, the MOFs employ metal ions and organic molecules to create the same effect. By filling the empty space with guest molecules, scientists achieved the greater electrical conduction.
The MOFs could create molecular electronic devices on the scale of their pore dimensions of approximately one nanometer. Applications for the frameworks include chemical sensing, medical diagnostics, energy harvesting, and storage and microelectronics. Researchers plan to continue their studies by experimenting with different molecules.