Augmented Reticular Chemistry

Our recent presents a synthetic approach to building structures at the macroscopic scale by introducing the idea of augmented reticular chemistry — crystals of metal-organic framework (MOF) are connected by strong bonds into superframeworks (Figure). This strategy escalates the size of the building blocks from molecules to crystals and brings about progression from MOFs to superframeworks, providing access to structural and functional complexity found in biology, a new frontier of synthetic chemistry.

Advanced Materials 2021, DOI: 10.1002/adma.202103808.

In analogy to the breakthrough discoveries in physics at the beginning of the 20th century, we highlight an outstanding major challenge in synthetic chemistry and describe progress that has been made to address it. If we look back at the beginning of the last century all major challenges in physics were considered to have been solved with just two remaining (supposedly) minor exceptions – the physics of very small and very large objects. In due course, these last details ushered in the establishment of the fields of quantum mechanics and relativity theory, respectively. Similarly, in chemistry the structuring of extended solids on the molecular and nano-levels has led to nanotechnology (nanometer length scales). However, the development of chemistry at macroscopic length scales has thus far been neglected. In our perspective we demonstrate that linking of nanocrystals into macroscopic objects in general, and augmented reticular chemistry in particular (Figure) constitutes a powerful strategy to address this synthesis gap.

Figure. Schematic illustration of augmented reticular chemistry realized by designing progressively increasing size and complexity.