Research

Research Focus

The primary focus of our research is in demonstrating innovative processing strategies for nanostructured materials and functional hybrids engineered for challenging applications in clean and renewable energy.

Based on the comprehensive understanding of synthetic chemistry and structure-property relationship with careful characterization of nanostructures and their functionality, we study the fundamentals and application of nanostructure interfacial engineering that entails molecular design and rational synthesis of nanostructured materials and hybrids for membranes, catalysts, and adsorbents with tailored properties.

Nanostructured materials and functional hybrids developed in this research can be incorporated in engineering devices for the application of carbon capture and sequestration, chemical sensors, fuel cells, and production/purification/storage of renewable energy such as hydrogen. For these purposes we focus on two major classes of adsorbent porous materials, Metal Organic Frameworks and Lamellar Nanostructures.

Research Areas

Materials

Metal Organic Frameworks (MOFs)

jz-2012-00328j_0003

Metal organic frameworks (MOFs) are a new class of crystalline hybrid materials where inorganic and organic counterparts form single phase crystalline materials. These frameworks are also sometimes called porous coordination polymers or coordination networks. The main counterparts of these materials are metal nodes which could be represented by metal ions, metal centers, or metal clusters; and organic ligands which play the role of linkers between those metal nodes.  Currently hundreds of these frameworks are known. Such interest in MOFs is related to their unique properties such as high surface area, large pore volume, high uniform and permanent porosity, and ease of tuning those structure to introduce additional physical and chemical properties. With a high variety of metals (transition metals) and organic linkers (e.g. carboxylates, phosphonates, imidazolates), the possible combinations of MOFs are infinite. These are self-assembled crystals, so controlled synthetic procedures are required to obtain high quality crystals and permanent porosity of the frameworks is not always guaranteed. As for known MOFs, exceptionally high permanent porosity (up to 5000-6000 m2/g in surface area), low density and simplicity of methods to introduce various properties have been observed. Because of these properties MOFs are currently widely studied for gas separation and storage and could be promising in the field of electrically active materials and in the field of biomedicine. Currently, our group works on the synthesis and characterization of metal organic frameworks for applications in carbon dioxide capture from post combustion flue gas or ambient air.

MGDOBDC_unit_cell
Lamellar Structures

Lamellar Structure 1

Lamellar Structured Materials, such as MCM-22-P and AMH-3, represent an exciting new material type which has both the porosity of zeolites and the chemical tunability of clays. These materials are composed of micrporous layers with nanoscale dimensions, stacked one on top of the other in one of the unit cell axes to create a layered bulk material. The interesting properties which this sort of physical arrangement allow, and the multiple chemical functionalization and alteration routes available, allow for the creation of a wide range of end products from the initial lamellar precursor. Furthermore, because the individual layers composing the material are microporous, it is possible to generate a final material with both micro- and mesoporosity, that has very high external surface areas (~500 to 800 m^2/g) as well as large porous channels for diffusion of entering molecules. Current focus on these materials include the swelling and pillaring of MCM-22-P and AMH-3 to achieve novel end materials with specific catalytic properties. Applications for the capture of radioactive waste, carbon dioxide, and other waste species is also being investigated.

MCM-22-P Image

Applications of Materials

Advanced Separations
Carbon Dioxide Capture and Conversion
Catalysis for Clean Energy