Metal-organic nanosheets (MONs) are an emerging class of graphene-like two-dimensional nanomaterials. MONs combine the diversity of organic compounds with the unique properties of metal ions in a modular way that allows their properties to be tuned systematically. Their very high surface area, readily tunable chemistry and nanoscopic dimensions make them ideal for use in sensing, catalysis, electronics and separation applications.
Nature harnesses multiple weakly interacting chemical groups positioned in complimentary positions on a surface in order to create receptors able to strongly and selectively bind to complex macromolecules such proteins. The nanoscopic dimensions of MONs mean they are of the right length scale to facilitate these interactions and other nanosheets such as graphene oxide have been shown to bind well to protein receptor sites. Unlike other nanosheets, MONs present an ordered periodic array of different functional groups on their surfaces potentially allowing them to be tuned to selectively bind specific proteins.
Your project will therefore be to design new MONs which present multiple functional groups on their surfaces which allow them to selectively bind to different proteins and other macromolecules. The long term aims of this project are to utilise the MONs as novel receptors to bind and separate biomedically important proteins for use in disease diagnosis.
You will develop skills in organic, inorganic and nanomaterials synthesis and use a wide variety of characterisation techniques to understand their molecular and nanoscopic structure (including x-ray diffraction, atomic force microscopy, electron microscopy). You will also pioneer new techniques to incorporate receptors onto the surface of the MONs and to study the interaction of biomolecules in solution. There is also considerable scope within the project to develop the nanosheets towards other applications in line with your interests.
Key References D. J. Ashworth and J. A. Foster,* Metal–organic framework nanosheets (MONs): a new dimension in materials chemistry, J. Mater. Chem. A, 2018, 6, 16292-16307 D. J. Ashworth, A. Cooper, M. Trueman, R. W. M. Al-Saedi, L. D. Smith, A. J. H. M. Meijer and J. A. Foster*, Ultrasonic exfoliation of hydrophobic and hydrophilic metal-organic frameworks to form nanosheets, Chem. Eur. J., 2018, DOI: 10.1002/chem.201803221 J. A. Foster,* Sebastian Henke, Andreas Schneemann, Roland A. Fischer and Anthony K. Cheetham, Liquid exfoliation of alkyl-ether functionalised layered metal–organic frameworks to nanosheets, Chem. Commun., 2016, 52, 10474-10477