Ancient architecture inspires a window to the future

03 October, 2023

A centuries-old technique for constructing arched stone windows has inspired a new way to form tailored nanoscale windows in porous functional materials called metal-organic frameworks (MOFs).


The method uses a molecular version of an architectural arch-forming “centring formwork“ template to direct the formation of MOFs with pore windows of predetermined shape and size. New MOFs designed and made in this way range from narrow-windowed materials with gas separation potential to larger-windowed structures with potential medical applications due to their excellent oxygen-adsorption capacity.

“One of the most challenging goals in new structure design is the precise control of structure formation,” says Aleksandr Sapianik, a postdoc in the group of Mohamed Eddaoudi, who led the research. For reticular chemistry — the assembly of molecular building blocks into porous crystalline materials such as MOFs — the centering formwork concept might offer that precise control, the team realized.

The starting point of the research was a zeolite-like MOF (ZMOF), which usually features pentagonal windows framed by building blocks called supertetrahedra (ST). “Our goal was to control ST arrangement to change from this well-known topology to one not reported before with these building blocks,” Sapianik says.




  1. Barsukova, M., Sapianik, A., Guillerm, V., Shkurenko, A., Shaikh, A. C., Parvatkar, P., Bhatt, P., Bonneau, M., Alhaji, A., Shekhah, O., Balestra, S. R. G., Semino, R., Maurin, G., Eddaoudi, M. Face-directed assembly of tailored isoreticular MOFs using centring structure-directing agents. Nature Synthesis (2023).| article