Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Scientific Communities
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

Swiss Cheese Crystal, or High-Tech Sponge?

Published: Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Last Updated: Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Bookmark and Share
The remarkable properties of a new, porous material could lead to advances in microscopic sponging

The sponges of the future will do more than clean house.

Picture this, for example: Doctors use a tiny sponge to soak up a drug and deliver it directly to a tumor. Chemists at a manufacturing plant use another to trap and store unwanted gases.

These technologies are what University at Buffalo Assistant Professor of Chemistry Jason Benedict, PhD, had in mind when he led the design of a new material called UBMOF-1. The material — a metal-organic framework, or “MOF” — is a hole-filled crystal that could act as a sponge, capturing molecules of specific sizes and shapes in its pores.

Swiss cheese-like MOFs are not new, but Benedict’s has a couple of remarkable qualities:

• The crystal’s pores change shape when hit by ultraviolet light. This is important because changing the pore structure is one way to control which compounds can enter or exit the pores. You could, for instance, soak up a chemical and then alter the pore size to prevent it from escaping. Secure storage is useful in applications like drug delivery, where “you don’t want the chemicals to come out until they get where they need to be,” Benedict says.

• The crystal also changes color in response to ultraviolet light, going from colorless to red. This suggests that the material’s electronic properties are shifting, which could affect the types of chemical compounds that are attracted into the pores.

Benedict’s team reported on the creation of the UBMOF on Jan. 22 in the journal Chemical Communications. The paper’s coauthors include chemists from UB and Penn State Hazleton.

“MOFs are like molecular sponges — they’re crystals that have pores,” Benedict said.

“Typically, they are these passive materials: They’re static. You synthesize them, and that’s the end of the road,” he added. “What we’re trying to do is to take these passive materials and make them active, so that when you apply a stimulus like light, you can make them change their chemical properties, including the shape of their pores.”

Benedict is a member of UB’s New York State Center of Excellence in Materials Informatics, which the university launched in 2012 to advance the study of new materials that could improve life for future generations.

To force UBMOF-1 respond to ultraviolet light, Benedict and colleagues used some clever synthetic chemistry.

MOF crystals are made from two types of parts — metal nodes and organic rods — and the researchers attached a light-responsive chemical group called a diarylethene to the organic component of their material.

Diarylethene is special because it houses a ring of atoms that is normally open but shuts when exposed to ultraviolet light.

In the UBMOF, the diarylethene borders the crystal’s pores, which means the pores change shape when the diarylethene does.

The next step in the research is to determine how, exactly, the structure of the holes is changing, and to see if there’s a way to get the holes to revert to their original shape.

Rods containing diarylethene can be forced back into the “open” configuration with white light, but this tactic only works when the rods are alone. Once they’re inserted into the crystal, the diarylethene rings stay stubbornly closed in the presence of white light.

Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,800+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More Than 4,000+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Brain Equation: Subtract Protein, Generate Myelin-Making Cells
A new way to generate oligodendrocytes has potential to enhance treatments for brain injury, MS, Alzheimer’s and more.
Thursday, August 20, 2015
Scientists Grow Human Serotonin Neurons in Petri Dish
The advance could facilitate the discovery of new antidepressants and drugs for illnesses involving serotonin.
Monday, August 10, 2015
Slinky Lookalike “Hyperlens” Helps Us See Tiny Objects
The photonics advancement could improve early cancer detection, nanoelectronics manufacturing and scientists’ ability to observe single molecules.
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
UB and Roswell Park receive $1.85M Grant to Launch Stem Cell Research Program
The program will bring together 18 faculty members to advance translation of stem cell breakthroughs into cell therapies.
Monday, May 18, 2015
New Imaging Technique Captures Protein Vibrations
Using a technique based on terahertz near-field microscopy scientists have for the first time observed in detail the vibrations of lysozyme.
Friday, January 17, 2014
A Novel Pathway for a Mucosal TB Vaccine
Custom-designed adjuvants, developed at UB, boost immune responses against tuberculosis.
Friday, February 01, 2013
Hybrid Nanoparticles for Multimodal Medical Imaging
The grant will fund research in which two or more medical imaging techniques are combined to provide complementary information.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Chemical Sensors to Sniff out Diseases in Human Breath
Researchers are developing a Breathalyzer-type device to recognize biomarkers for certain diseases.
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Scientific News
High Throughput Mass Spectrometry-Based Screening Assay Trends
Dr John Comley provides an insight into HT MS-based screening with a focus on future user requirements and preferences.
How a Genetic Locus Protects Adult Blood-Forming Stem Cells
Mammalian imprinted Gtl2 protects adult hematopoietic stem cells by restricting metabolic activity in the cells' mitochondria.
Genetic Basis of Fatal Flu Side Effect Discovered
A group of people with fatal H1N1 flu died after their viral infections triggered a deadly hyperinflammatory disorder in susceptible individuals with gene mutations linked to the overactive immune response, according to a recent study.
New Tech Vastly Improves CRISPR/Cas9 Accuracy
A new CRISPR/Cas9 technology developed by scientists at UMass Medical School is precise enough to surgically edit DNA at nearly any genomic location, while avoiding potentially harmful off-target changes typically seen in standard CRISPR gene editing techniques.
The MaxSignal Colistin ELISA Test Kit from Bioo Scientific
Kit can help prevent the antibiotic apocalypse by keeping last resort drugs out of the food supply.
"Good" Mozzie Virus Might Hold Key to Fighting Human Disease
Australian scientists have discovered a new virus carried by one of the country’s most common pest mosquitoes.
Non-Disease Proteins Kill Brain Cells
Scientists at the forefront of cutting-edge research into neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s have shown that the mere presence of protein aggregates may be as important as their form and identity in inducing cell death in brain tissue.
Closing the Loop on an HIV Escape Mechanism
Research team finds that protein motions regulate virus infectivity.
New Class of RNA Tumor Suppressors Identified
Two short, “housekeeping” RNA molecules block cancer growth by binding to an important cancer-associated protein called KRAS. More than a quarter of all human cancers are missing these RNAs.
Potential Treatment for Life-Threatening Viral Infections Revealed
The findings point to new therapies for Dengue, West Nile and Ebola.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,800+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,000+ scientific videos