ChemComm Front Cover for Foster Group
Imagine throwing a pack of playing cards up in the air. Suddenly, instead of only being able to see the top and bottom cards, all faces of the playing cards are exposed. This process is analogous to a technique called ‘liquid exfoliation’ which takes layered materials and disperses them into a suspension of card-like fragments just a billionth of a meter thick called “nanosheets”. This process has been used to convert a wide range of layered materials into nanosheets, most famously the transformation of common pencil lead (graphite) into a revolutionary new material called graphene. Nanosheets have a much larger surface area compared to the bulk material which makes them ideal for a range of applications including their use as sensors, catalysts and composite materials.
In a recent paper reported in ChemComm, Dr Jonathan Foster and collaborators used this approach to create the first example of a layered “metal-organic framework” designed for exfoliation to form nanosheets. The framework incorporates weakly interacting chains between the layers that aid the formation of nanosheets and improve their stability in suspension. Dispersion of the nanosheets exposes “active sites” on the faces of the nanosheets which enabled them to be used as sensors to detect the presence of specific compounds in solution.
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