Controlling the Foundational Layer-by-Layer Growth of Surface Anchored Metal-Organic Frameworks
Thin films composed of metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) are deposited and tailored on surfaces for application as smart interfaces. By understanding the foundational growth mechanism of surface anchored metal-organic framework (SurMOF) systems, these materials will be integrated into advanced sensing devices and renewable energy technologies. MOFs are nano-porous, crystalline materials which have an immense surface area. The size of these nano-pores is controlled by adjusting the size of connecting organic ligands and type of metal ion joints, which determine suitable applications. Layer-by-layer deposition allows for controlled stepwise formation to tailor the thin film scaffold one molecular layer at a time. This study has observed and quantified general trends in foundational film growth to better tailor these materials for applications in gas storage, sensing, and smart interfaces. An array of nanoscale characterization techniques, including atomic force microscopy, ellipsometry, and FT-IR spectroscopy, have been employed to gain an overarching understanding of film morphology, thickness, and chemical composition, respectively. These films are fabricated under mild processing conditions and applied to a wide range of substrates, polymer films to glass electrodes, increasing the versatility of the SurMOF. By understanding the fundamental formation of these films, the groundwork will be established for industrial leaders and engineers to integrate SurMOFs into renewable energy and sensing devices.