Research

Research topics:
1. Ultra-Stable Materials
2. Storage and Separations
3. Catalysis and Biomimetics
4. Biological Integration
5. Commercialization
6. Future projects pending...


1. Ultra-Stable Materials

Metal-organic frameworks, with their tunable structures and intriguing properties show much promise in various applications such as gas separation and storage, catalysis, and biological applications. However, the unstable nature of relatively weak coordination bonds between metal ions and organic ligands has thus far dramatically limited practical implementation of these materials. To improve the chemical stability of MOFs, the strategy of our group is to design a series of frameworks with high-valent, hard Lewis acidic species such as Al3+, Fe3+, Cr3+, and Zr4+, which can form much stronger bonds with carboxylates. We have had recent success and are leaders in the synthesis of new ultra-stable materials.

Ultra-Stable Mats

Representative articles:

Nat Commun 2014, 5.  Article number: 5723      

J. Am. Chem. Soc.,2014,, 7813

Angew. Chem. Int. Ed.,2015, 149

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2. Storage and Separations

Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) are promising adsorbents or membrane sieves for gas storage or separation due to their designable structures and chemical properties. Our efforts in this topic include 1) the synthesis of new MOFs with predesigned pore sizes, shapes and surface functionalities for selective adsorption and separation, 2) the exploration of the mechanism of selective adsorption in MOFs, and 3) the exploitation of MOF-based membranes for gas separations

Storage and Separations

Representative articles:

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3. Catalysis and Biomimetics (Particularly for CO2 Capture)

Using synthetic systems to mimic natural enzymes with high catalytic activity and substrate selectivity has been a sought-after goal for decades. MOFs have proven to be an excellent type of platform for biomimetic heterogeneous catalysis because of its porosity, newfound robustness and tunability. Our focus in this topic lies in developing MOF catalyst along the lines of an ‘‘artificial enzyme’’ paradigm. We have successfully incorporated metalloporphyrins, one of the most well studied prosthetic groups, into robust MOFs for biomimetic catalytic applications. Photochemical processes are also currently under study in the group.

Cat and Bio

Representative articles:

Chem. Commun.2015,51(19), 4005

J. Am. Chem. Soc.,2013,, 17105

Angew. Chem. Int. Ed.,2012,,

Angew. Chem. Int. Ed.,2015,, 430

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4. Biological Integration

Through the use of MOFs, our group is currently studying inorganic-biomolecule hybrid materials as well as biomedical applications of MOFs. Our previous work has focused on encapsulation of proteins to stabilize their activity for use as recoverable catalysts. This is an important development because currently enzymes are mainly used for single batches and by increasing lifetime we hope to decrease costs and increase the efficiency of these processes.

Biological

Representative article:

Nature Comm. 6, 2015 Article number:5979

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5. Commercialization

The company framergy was founded in early 2011 by J.M.Ornstein to commercialize the groundbreaking innovations in Dr. Hong-Cai Zhou's laboratory at Texas A&M University. Through this project’s high-alkane enhanced, Metal-Organic Framework (MOF) based storage technology and its laboratory testing, framergy showed the feasibility of a flexible, transportable, low-cost infrastructure to abate flaring and venting.

framergy

Source:

Framergy LLC

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6. Future projects pending...

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