Avoiding the Center-Symmetry Trap: Programmed Assembly of Dipolar Precursors into Porous, Crystalline Molecular Thin Films

Adv Mater. 2021 Sep;33(35):e2103287. doi: 10.1002/adma.202103287. Epub 2021 Jul 21.


Liquid-phase, quasi-epitaxial growth is used to stack asymmetric, dipolar organic compounds on inorganic substrates, permitting porous, crystalline molecular materials that lack inversion symmetry. This allows material fabrication with built-in electric fields. A new programmed assembly strategy based on metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) is described that facilitates crystalline, noncentrosymmetric space groups for achiral compounds. Electric fields are integrated into crystalline, porous thin films with an orientation normal to the substrate. Changes in electrostatic potential are detected via core-level shifts of marker atoms on the MOF thin films and agree with theoretical results. The integration of built-in electric fields into organic, crystalline, and porous materials creates possibilities for band structure engineering to control the alignment of electronic levels in organic molecules. Built-in electric fields may also be used to tune the transfer of charges from donors loaded via programmed assembly into MOF pores. Applications include organic electronics, photonics, and nonlinear optics, since the absence of inversion symmetry results in a clear second-harmonic generation signal.

Keywords: electrostatic design; metal-organic frameworks; second-harmonic generation.