Microfluidic approach toward continuous and ultrafast synthesis of metal-organic framework crystals and hetero structures in confined microdroplets

J Am Chem Soc. 2013 Oct 2;135(39):14619-26. doi: 10.1021/ja4039642. Epub 2013 Sep 18.


Herein, we report a novel nanoliter droplet-based microfluidic strategy for continuous and ultrafast synthesis of metal-organic framework (MOF) crystals and MOF heterostructures. Representative MOF structures, such as HKUST-1, MOF-5, IRMOF-3, and UiO-66, were synthesized within a few minutes via solvothermal reactions with substantially faster kinetics in comparison to the conventional batch processes. The approach was successfully extended to the preparation of a demanding Ru3BTC2 structure that requires high-pressure hydrothermal synthesis conditions. Finally, three different types of core-shell MOF composites, i.e., Co3BTC2@Ni3BTC2, MOF-5@diCH3-MOF-5, and Fe3O4@ZIF-8, were synthesized by exploiting a unique two-step integrated microfluidic synthesis scheme in a continuous-flow mode. The synthesized MOF crystals were characterized by X-ray diffraction, scanning electron microscopy, and BET surface area measurements. In comparison with bare MOF-5, MOF-5@diCH3-MOF-5 showed enhanced structural stability in the presence of moisture, and the catalytic performance of Fe3O4@ZIF-8 was examined using Knoevenagel condensation as a probe reaction. The microfluidic strategy allowed continuous fabrication of high-quality MOF crystals and composites exhibiting distinct morphological characteristics in a time-efficient manner and represents a viable alternative to the time-consuming and multistep MOF synthesis processes.