Crystallizing Ideas on Amorphous MOFs in Kyoto – A Short Term Visit

Materials Horizons Community Board member Dr Thomas Bennett tells us about a research trip he recently took to Kyoto, Japan which was funded by a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science short term fellowship.

Tom started a Royal Society University Research Fellowship at the University of Cambridge in 2016, along with a visiting adjunct professor position at The Wuhan University of Technology. He also holds a visiting scientist position at CSIRO Melbourne. In 2017/2018, Tom is also Director of Studies for Materials Science, at Trinity Hall, Cambridge University. He has been fortunate enough to receive the EPSRC post-doctoral prize (2012) and the Panalytical award for an outstanding contribution to X-ray diffraction (2013).

 

His latest research on the discovery of the first liquid metal-organic-framework was featured in Chemistry World earlier this month.

 

You recently spent a month in Kyoto, Japan visiting the group of Professor Satoshi Horike and Professor Susumu Kitagawa on a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) short term post-doctoral fellowship. What motivated you to consider making this journey?

The research of my group is focused on metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), which are sponge-like compounds formed by networks of inorganic ‘bricks’ linked organic ligands. However, we place an emphasis on the amorphous, or non-crystalline state, and specifically MOF-liquids and melt quenched glasses. The latter is the first new family of glass-formers discovered since the 1970s, and has been gathering much attention.

The group based in the Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences (ICeMS) is world renowned for excellence in the field of coordination polymers, and are also interested in the glassy and liquid states of hybrid polymeric systems. I’ve met both Satoshi and Susumu on multiple occasions at conferences, and we share the same desire to broaden the field and investigate the non-crystalline domain. We made a conscious decision to take the time to set up a lasting collaborative relationship between our two groups, given our common research interests. This was made easier by the fact we get along extremely well and we can be open about our research with one another!

 

How did you go about applying for the JSPS fellowship? Do you have any tips for others who might be thinking of applying as well?

The application form is short and easy to fill out – and the JSPS office in London is extremely helpful. There are several deadlines per year, and your Japanese proposed host institution will guide you through the process if unsure. I’d strongly encourage anyone interested in a stay with a Japanese Institution to get in touch with a local contact and discuss the possibilities.

 

What was the focus of the research that you carried out in Japan?

We focused on the links between coordination polymers and MOFs in the non-crystalline domain, and carried out some experiments aimed at understanding the chemical opportunities and variability in the area. We also have set up our two groups to work together experimentally, and samples should start to be exchanged soon!

 

Do you have any exciting results or collaborations planned in the future as a result? Are there any publications we should keep an eye out for?

We do! Aside from some promising early experimental results which are being followed up upon now, we hope to be able to provide our thoughts on how the non-crystalline coordination polymer and metal-organic field will develop in the long run. We’ve had some excellent advice on how to do this along the way, which will hopefully make it an enjoyable read when it comes together!

 

What impact do you think this experience will have on you and your research in the future?

The Royal Society University Research Fellowship that I am extremely fortunate to have, offers me freedom to explore the real edges and interfaces of science as it evolves, and there is no doubt that the exchange will benefit both our research groups – be it through student exchanges or sharing our different experimental capabilities.

I’m currently looking for new students and members, full details of which can be found on the group website: https://tdbennettgroup.wordpress.com/.

Personally, the experience was invaluable. I am busy building up my group as a Royal Society University Research Fellow, and it’s really valuable to be able to learn from Satoshi, who is further on in his career. Long term planning, strategy and research environment is particularly important.

 

What were the best and most challenging aspects of your month away?

Well, the research first and foremost! Aside from that, Kyoto is simply a stunning city, and a bike is absolutely the best way to get around it. Waking up with sunrise at 6am and cycling around beautiful gardens, temples and cobbled lanes gives you a real taste of peace and quiet before the day really gets going! One of my hobbies is travelling – seeing beautiful sights, learning about different cultures, meeting new people and (especially) eating wonderful cuisines. In all cases, Kyoto was perfect.

As always when you are away from home, the occasional loneliness could have been an issue – you always want to share the best experiences with somebody. This was never an issue in Kyoto. Alongside my hosts, I’m particularly grateful to Prof. Shuhei Furukawa, Dr. Sanjog Nagarkar, Dr. Jet Lee, Dr. Gavin Craig and Ms. Azuma for making me feel so welcome!

My partner, Helena, also joined me for a week in the middle of the stay, and we took the opportunity to visit the mountainous Hida region.

 

Are you attending any conferences or events next year where our readers might meet you?

I will be at EuroMOF 2017 in Delft in late October, and then giving an inorganic seminar in Berkeley with Prof. Omar Yaghi in January 2017. Beyond that, I’m part of the organising team for the Annual UK MOF Symposium, which will be held at the University of Southampton on the 9th and 10th April 2018. I will be back in Japan for the ICCC 2018 in Sendai, early August, and then in New Zealand for the biannual MOF conference in December 2018.

I’ve recently gotten into Twitter, so follow me @thomasdbennett for a rough idea of my whereabouts!

 

And finally, what is the one piece of career-related advice that you wish you’d received as an early-career scientist?

I’ve had the immense privilege of working with many great scientists (too many to name them all!) who have supported me no end, including Prof. Tony Cheetham, Prof. David Keen, Prof. Andrew Goodwin, Dr Nick Bampos and Prof. Dirk De Vos. Dr. Ross Forgan, University of Glasgow, is a Royal Society Research Fellow about 5 years on from me and he has been great as well.

A new idea and a novel area always help, although it’s easy for me to say now! I think that as long as you look after your students, appreciate the value of your collaborators, stay grounded and keep a smile on your face, then you will be able to remain grateful for what is a fantastic career.

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Smart stretch expands hip implant performance

Article written by Simon Neil

Material designed to get thicker as it bends

Scientists in the Netherlands have designed a material that offers to lengthen the lifetime of hip implants using an unprecedented property: the material gets thicker when compressed and when stretched.


Source: Eline Kolken
The new material could improve implant longevity

The average owner of an artificial hip is no lazy bones. Each year, they take around four million steps. All this movement takes its toll, though. After around 15 years, implants tend to work loose from the femur bone and need replacing.

To read the full article visit Chemistry World.

Rationally designed meta-implants: a combination of auxetic and conventional meta-biomaterials
Helena M. A. Kolken, Shahram Janbaz, Sander M. A. Leeflang, Karel Lietaert, Harrie H. Weinans and Amir A. Zadpoor
Mater. Horiz., 2017, Advance Article
http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/C7MH00699C

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Deep sight into the brain: organic nanoparticles for imaging in the second near-infrared window

Article written by Ester Kwon

Researchers have long been interested in peering into the brain. Added to the inherent challenge of imaging through biological medium, the skull presents a major barrier that highly attenuates light.

To overcome this barrier, in a recent communication in Materials Horizons, Guo et al. have synthesized an organic nanoparticle for photoacoustic imaging with absorbance in the second near-infrared window. At this wavelength, there is relatively low scattering from tissue allowing for deeper penetration of light.

Photoacoustic images of a brain tumor after nanoparticle injection. The grey ultrasound image shows the skin and the skull margin, and the green signal indicates the nanoparticle distribution. Image adapted from Guo et al., Mater. Horiz., 2017, Advance Article with permission from The Royal Society of Chemistry. 

Nanoparticles were made from benzodithiophene-benzobithiadiazole donor-acceptor pairs co-polymerized and nanoprecipitated using biocompatible materials. When these imaging nanoparticles were applied to mice with orthotopic brain tumors, tumors 3.4 nm below the skull were resolved with a nearly 100-fold increase in photoacoustic signal compared to before intravenous administration of nanoparticles. The stable, high contrast photoacoustic imaging nanoparticle presented in this work offers a versatile platform for simple chemical modifications such as ligand targeting or drug loading.

Future work remains on the horizon to advance these materials for imaging through the ~5 mm thickness of human skulls.

 

Read the full article here:
Bing Guo, Zonghai Sheng, Kenry, Dehong Hu, Xiangwei Lin, Shidang Xu, Chengbo Liu, Hairong Zheng and Bin Liu

 

Ester Kwon is a member of the Community Board for Materials Horizons. Currently, she works as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Bioengineering at University of California San Diego, USA. Check out her personal website here.

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Prize winners at chem2Dmat

Congratulations to the poster prize winners at chem2Dmat, which took place in Strasbourg on 22 – 26 August 2017. Both prize winners received a signed certificate and a free online subscription to the sponsor journal for a year.

 

First Poster Session AWARDS

KEMPT Roman

Title: Intercalation of 2D Transition Metal Dichalcogenides: from Bulk to Monolayer Stacks

One year online subscription to RSC Materials Horizons delivered by Paolo Samori

Second Poster Session AWARDS

Elaheh MOHEBBI

Title: Bottom-up synthesized covalent organic nanowires by halogen-based molecules on Ag (110) surface

One year online subscription to RSC Journal of Materials Chemistry C delivered by Paolo Samori

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A simple gradient makes biomimetic surfaces extremely durable

Article written by Mengye Wang

A new and highly controllable technique to manufacture functional gradient nanocomposites has been reported in a recent article, published in Materials Horizons. The technique enables smooth and programmable stiff-to-compliant (or compliant-to-stiff) transitions within micro-scale regions.

This technique, developed by Dr. Zhengzhi Wang and colleagues at Wuhan University, is based on a typical two-step process:

  1. Use a magnetic field to generate a desired concentration gradient of magnetic-responsive nano-reinforcements inside a polymer matrix in liquid state.
  2. Polymerize and solidify the redistributed polymer nanocomposites.

Using this technique, Wang et al. fabricated various biomimetic interfaces and surfaces and found that the functional gradient designs, with reduced stress concentrations, simultaneously improved the mechanical strength and durability over an order of magnitude compared with the traditional homogeneous counterparts.

The magnetically-actuated functional gradient nanocomposites can be further integrated into advanced additive manufacturing techniques to create a wide range of functional heterogeneous materials with unprecedented combinations of mechanical properties.

TEM image of functional gradient nanocomposites for compliant-stiff-compliant transitions

Read the full article here:
Zhengzhi Wang,* Xiaoming Shi, Houbing Huang,* Chenmin Yao, Wen Xie, Cui Huang, Ping Gu, Xingqiao Ma, Zuoqi Zhang and LongQing Chen
DOI: 10.1039/c7mh00223h

 

Mengye Wang is a member of the Community Board for Materials Horizons. Currently, she works as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Applied Physics at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. She has a keen interest in advanced materials for environmental and energy applications, including photocatalysis and electrocatalysis.

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Conference Promotion – Solid State Chemistry Group Christmas Meeting 2017

The 37th annual Christmas Meeting of the Royal Society of Chemistry Solid State Chemistry Group is hosted by the University of Reading and will run from lunchtime on Monday 18th December to lunchtime on Tuesday 19th December. Further details about the venue and how to get there can be found here.

Confirmed plenary speakers:
Prof. Peter Bruce (University of Oxford)
Prof. Paul Wright (University of St Andrews)
Prof. Nora de Leeuw (University of Cardiff)
Prof. Antoine Maignan (CRISMAT, Caen, France)

Important deadlines:
Submissions for oral presentations 1st November
Submissions for poster presentations 15th November
Registration 15th November

Submit a poster to be in with a chance of winning one of three poster prizes sponsored by Materials Horizons, Journal of Materials Chemistry A, and Journal of Materials Chemistry C!

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Conference Promotion – RPGR 2017

The 9thannual Recent Progress in Graphene and Two-dimensional Materials Research Conference (RPGR2017) is taking place between the 19th to the 22nd of September 2017 in Singapore. (www.rpgr2017.com)

RPGRis the premier conference focused on graphene and other novel two-dimensional materials in the Asia-Pacific region. This year the conference is jointly organized by National University of Singapore – Centre for Advanced 2D Materials and Phantoms Foundation.

Poster prizes available from Materials Horizons!

Latest Speakers announced– 42 in total (as of 25/07/2017):

Li-Xian Sun (Guilin Univ. of Electronic Technology, China) / Mark Thompson (Talga, Australia) / Rezal Khairi Ahmad (NanoMalaysia Berhad, Malaysia) / Norbert Fabricius (KIT & ISC, Germany) / Ahmed Elmarakbi (University of Sunderland, UK)

Check the full list here: www.rpgr2017.com/2017/speakerski.php

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Congratulations to the poster prize winners at MC13

Congratulations to the winners of the Materials Horizons poster prize at the 13th International Conference on Materials Chemistry (MC13). The poster prize was awarded to Abbas, Sara; Buchaca-Domingo, Ester; El-Tall, Omar; Kim, Taesoo; Caraveo, Alfonso; Stingelin, Natalie; and Amassian Aram from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Saudi Arabia for their poster entitled Solution-Processed Smart Window Platform Based on Plasmonic Electrochromic and Photonic Coatings.

 

Other prizes were awarded from  Journal of Materials Chemistry B , Molecular Systems Design & Engineering, Soft MatterBiomaterials, and more!

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The pursuit of solid-state electrolytes for lithium batteries: from comprehensive insight to emerging horizons

Article written by Dr Mengye Wang

Conventional lithium rechargeable batteries contain solid electrodes and liquid electrolytes, which can have potential security risks concerning volatilization, flammability and explosion. Because of the widely acknowledged safety benefits of solid electrolytes over their liquid counterparts, the application of solid-state batteries has been widely envisioned. Recently, a review of solid-state electrolytes for lithium batteries has been published in Materials Horizons, by Renjie Chen’s group at Beijing Institute of Technology.
They discuss existing solid electrolytes including inorganic solid electrolytes, solid polymer electrolytes, and composite solid electrolytes, and present conductive mechanisms of these conductors in detail. However, large-scale implementation of all-solid-state batteries is still some way off because unsolved severe limitations have been encountered. This review systematically summarizes and visually displays the current limitations of solid electrolytes and efforts to overcome them with the objective of large-scale development. Given that the issues limiting solid electrolytes mainly derive from their structure activity relationships, so the main part has been divided into four sections: bulk, surface, interface and grain boundary.
Though this review, Professor Renjie Chen intends to convey the messages that the field of solid-state lithium batteries is multidisciplinary and joint experimental, computational and practical investigations could provide comprehensive insight into solid electrolytes. If the current limitations are broken though, it is hoped that this field will advance to large-scale development in the near future.

Categories of the existing solid electrolytes

Read the full article here:
The pursuit of solid-state electrolytes for lithium batteries: from comprehensive insight to emerging horizons
Renjie Chen, Wenjie Qu, Xing Guo, Li Li and Feng Wu
Mater. Horiz., 2016, 3, 487-516

 

Mengye Wang is a member of the Community Board for Materials Horizons. Currently, she works as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Applied Physics at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. She has a keen interest in advanced materials for environmental and energy applications, including photocatalysis and electrocatalysis.

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A skin-like sensor based on a stimuli-responsive hydrogel

Article written by Dr Mengye Wang

A novel type of multifunctional skin-like sensor based on a 3D printed thermo-responsive hydrogel has been reported in a new article, published in Materials Horizons. This study presents a simple strategy to transduce the volume phase transition behaviors of stimuli-responsive hydrogels into reliable electrical signals, which might be helpful to develop biocompatible skin-like sensors based on hydrogels with a wide range of sensory capabilities.

 

The strategy, developed by Professor Peiyi Wu and colleagues at Fudan University,  is based on two key points:

  1. Capacitive sensors in a parallel-plate configuration are sensitive to changes of the conductive area, thus allowing area changes (corresponding to volume phase transition behaviors) of stimuli-responsive ion-conducting hydrogels to be transduced into capacitance signals.
  2. Microstructuring the conductive layers with a sub-millimeter resolution enhances the relative area changes upon stimulation, thereby magnifying the capacitive response signals.

A thermo-responsive hydrogel was used in this work and the microstructure was fabricated by an advanced 3D printing technique. Wu’s group demonstrated that the microstructured hydrogel effectively magnified the capacitive area changes upon external stimuli (i.e., temperature and pressure). The prepared skin-like sensor could sense body temperatures, gentle finger touches and finger bending motion.

 

This work not only indicates that stimuli-responsive hydrogels are promising candidates for artificially intelligent skins, but might also enrich the design of skin-like sensors for future artificial intelligence, wearable devices and human/machine inter-action applications.

 

A 3D printed thermo-responsive hydrogel is designed as a novel multifunctional skin-like sensor, which could sense body temperature, gentle finger touches and finger bending motion.

 

Read the full article here:
Zhouyue Lei, Quankang Wang and Peiyi Wu
Mater. Horiz., 2017, Advance Article

 

Mengye Wang is a member of the Community Board for Materials Horizons. Currently, she works as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Applied Physics at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. She has a keen interest in advanced materials for environmental and energy applications, including photocatalysis and electrocatalysis.

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