Metal-organic nanosheets (MONs): programmable 2D materials for use as sensors, catalysts, membranes and devices.

Two-dimensional nanomaterials such as graphene hold enormous potential for use in advanced electronics, energy, separation and composite materials applications. However, the simple chemical composition of many of these materials mean small changes in their structure can have a large effect on their properties making it difficult to optimise them for many applications.

Metal-organic materials combine the tunability of organic linkers with the unique properties of metal ions in a modular way which allows their structure and so chemical, electronic, optical and magnetic properties to be modified in a systematic way. Other metal organic materials such as frameworks (3D), polymers (1D) and cages (0D) have been extensively developed yet research into 2D metal organic nanosheets (MONs) remains in its infancy.

MONs display the high surface area and aspect ratios of 2D materials but have a modular structure which readily allows for tuning of their properties and introduction of new chemical functionalities. MONs can be used in suspension, deposited as thin films on surfaces or blended with other materials as composites. This combination of properties make them ideal for a wide range of applications including use as sensors, catalysts, membranes and devices.

Our core expertise is in the design, synthesis, dispersion and characterisation of MONs. We’re interested in: understanding the rules governing the self-assembly and exfoliation of 2D metal-organic materials; creating concentrated, stable dispersions of MONs in different solvents; understanding the structure and properties of these complex materials over different length scales. We then work with academic and industrial partners to realise the potential of MONs for use in different applications.

We've recently expanded this approach to create nanosheets based on other supramolecular interactions such as hydrogen-bonded nanosheets (HONs).