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Seeded growth of single-crystal two-dimensional covalent organic frameworks

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Science  06 Jul 2018:
Vol. 361, Issue 6397, pp. 52-57
DOI: 10.1126/science.aar7883

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Covalent organic frameworks writ large

Covalent organic framework (COF) materials have been difficult to characterize structurally and to exploit because they tend to form powders or amorphous materials. Ma et al. studied a variety of three-dimensional COFs based on imine linkages (see the Perspective by Navarro). They found that the addition of aniline inhibited nucleation and allowed the growth of crystals large enough for single-crystal x-ray diffraction studies. Evans et al. describe a two-step process in which nanoscale seeds of boronate ester–linked two-dimensional COFs can be grown into micrometer-scale single crystals by using a solvent that suppresses the nucleation of additional nanoparticles. Transient absorption spectroscopy revealed superior charge transport in these crystallites compared with that observed in conventional powders.

Science, this issue p. 48, p. 52; see also p. 35

Abstract

Polymerization of monomers into periodic two-dimensional networks provides structurally precise, layered macromolecular sheets that exhibit desirable mechanical, optoelectronic, and molecular transport properties. Two-dimensional covalent organic frameworks (2D COFs) offer broad monomer scope but are generally isolated as powders comprising aggregated nanometer-scale crystallites. We found that 2D COF formation could be controlled using a two-step procedure in which monomers are added slowly to preformed nanoparticle seeds. The resulting 2D COFs are isolated as single-crystalline, micrometer-sized particles. Transient absorption spectroscopy of the dispersed COF nanoparticles revealed improvement in signal quality by two to three orders of magnitude relative to polycrystalline powder samples, and suggests exciton diffusion over longer length scales than those obtained through previous approaches. These findings should enable a broad exploration of synthetic 2D polymer structures and properties.

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