MIT chemists have created a new material that combines the flexibility of polymer gels with the rigid structure provided by metal-based clusters. The new gels could be well suited for a range of possible functions, including drug release, gas storage, or water filtration, the researchers say.
These new gels, known as polyMOCs, are a hybrid of two materials called metallogels and metal organic cages. Metallogels, which consist of metals bound to polymer chains, are similar to regular polymer gels in that they are soft and viscoelastic. Metal organic cages (MOCs), on the other hand, have a rigid structure and tend to form crystalline materials.
"One can imagine a class of materials that borrows from both of those, and so has the well-defined, self-assembled structures of the MOCs, but also has the viscoelastic properties of a polymer gel. That's what we've tried to make," said Jeremiah Johnson, the Roger and Georges Firmenich assistant professor of natural product chemistry and the senior author of a paper describing the gels in 'Nature Chemistry'.
The paper's lead author is Aleksandr Zhukhovitskiy, a graduate student in MIT's Department of Chemistry.