A group of scientists take art of weaving to a whole new level, that is to a nano-molecular level. For the first the first time ever, a team managed to produce nanomaterials through the uncomplicated method of weaving.
A joint team of researchers at the University of California and Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory recently reported that they were able to woven a 3-D fabric from helical organic threads.
The new fabric, which is called a covalent organic framework (COF), is more resilient, flexible and reversible than other types of COFs. Currently, COFs are used to trap carbon dioxide and turn it into environmental-friendly compounds.
Omar Yaghi, leader of the team who has achieved the feat, explained that the millennia-old art of weaving was now taken to a whole new level that allows scientists to manipulate materials in a way that can lead to products with remarkable mechanical properties.
Yaghi added that never before has weaving been used in biology and chemistry. But through the new method organic threads can be woven together into 2-D or 3-D organic patterns.
A research paper on the achievement was published this week in the journal Science.
COFs are closely related to MOFs, or metal organic frameworks. Both types of materials are highly-porous and have an inner structure that allows them to trap and absorb tremendous amounts of specific molecules. While COFs are made of organic molecules, MOFs consist in metal-organic particles. These particles are woven tightly together into net-like frameworks, which allow facilities to trap, store, and convert carbon dioxide into neutral chemicals.
Yaghi explained that the frameworks can be equipped with different types of catalysts to help them carry out various functions. One important function is to convert carbon dioxide (CO2) into carbon monoxide (CO). Carbon monoxide can be later used to produce polymers, fuels, and pharmaceutical products.
After having developed the new method to weave nanomaterials, Yaghi’s team noticed that the resulting COF materials were ten times more resilient and flexible than other types of COFs. The team also managed to obtain a material that can switch from a state of flexibility to stiffness, and vice versa without being damaged in the process.
Yaghi and his fellow researchers now dream of the possible applications for the new material. For instance, it could be used in clothes that combine strength and resiliency with variability and flexibility, the team noted.
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