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Metal–organic frameworks (MOFs) are a diverse range of materials with a variety of analytical applications. In our June feature, Victoria Samanidou noted their usefulness in several sample pretreatment approaches, including SPE, dispersive SPE, magnetic solid phase extraction, SPME and stir bar sorptive extraction – “and with many others likely to be included in the future,” (here). However, MOFs do have a weakness – they can be vulnerable to changes of pressure or temperature. If a material is not sufficiently mechanically stable, these forces cause pores to collapse or the material to break.

“Compared with other nano-porous materials, MOFs are relatively mechanically weak,” says Berend Smit (École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne). “There are MOFs that are very strong and some that have such a low density that they are more like solid foams – sufficient mechanical stability in MOFs cannot be taken for granted.” To help tackle the problem, Smit and Lev Sarkisov (University of Edinburgh) set out to get a better understanding of MOFs – and, in particular, zeolitic imidazolate frameworks (ZIFs) – at the molecular level.

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