Facile and Fast Transformation of Nonluminescent to Highly Luminescent Metal–Organic Frameworks: Acetone Sensing for Diabetes Diagnosis and Lead Capture from Polluted Water

M. Gutiérrez, A. F. Möslein and J.-C. Tan

ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 13, 7801 (2021)
Metal–organic frameworks (MOFs) stand as one of the most promising materials for the development of advanced technologies owing to their unique combination of properties. The conventional synthesis of MOFs involves a direct reaction of the organic linkers and metal salts; however, their postsynthetic modification is a sophisticated route to produce new materials or to confer novel properties that cannot be attained through the traditional methods. This work describes the postsynthetic MOF-to-MOF transformation of a nonluminescent MOF (Zn-based Oxford University-1 material [Zn-BDC, where BDC = 1,4-benzene dicarboxylate] (OX-1)) into a highly luminescent framework (Ag-based Oxford University-2 material [Ag-BDC] (OX-2)) by a simple immersion of the former in a silver salt solution. The conversion mechanism exploits the uncoordinated oxygen atoms of terephthalate linkers found in OX-1, instead of the unsaturated metal sites commonly employed, making the reaction much faster. The materials derived from the OX-1 to OX-2 transformation are highly luminescent and exhibit a selective response to acetone, turning them into a promising candidate for manufacturing fluorometric sensors for the diagnosis and monitoring of diabetes mellitus. Our methodology can be extended to other metals such as lead (Pb). The fabrication of a polymer mixed-matrix membrane containing OX-1 is used as a proof-of-concept for capturing Pb ions (as pollutants) from water. This research instigates the exploration of alternative methodologies to confer MOFs with special aptitudes for photochemical sensing or for environmental applications such as water purification.