Molecular Rotors in Porous Organic Frameworks


  • A.C. would like to thank the Fondazione Cariplo 2012 and PRIN 2011 for financial support. Brucker Biospin is greatly acknowledged.


Porous organic frameworks perform a variety of functions, owing to their extremely large surface areas, but the dynamics of the structural elements have never been explored. Our discovery of ultra-fast molecular rotors (106 Hz at 225 K) in their architectures allows us to look at them from a new perspective. The constructive elements are robust struts and rapid rotors, resulting in a dynamic material whose motion can be frozen or released at will. The rotational motion can be actively regulated in response to guests. As the temperature is increased, the rotors spin ever faster, approaching free-rotational diffusion at 550 K. The unusual combination of remarkable nanoporosity with fast dynamics is intriguing for engineering oscillating dipoles and producing responsive materials with switchable ferroelectricity, and for applications spanning from sensors to actuators, which capture and release chemicals on command.