Researchers in the Universitat de València's Molecular Science Institute (ICMol), located in Parc Científic, have found out the way to introduce gas molecules in non-porous materials, allowing them to act as molecular sensors. This finding allows for the production of more versatile, precise sensors since, apart from the optical response for the molecules detection, the magnetic response is a capability which did not exist for these kinds of crystalline materials up until now.
This work, recently published on the journal Nature Communications, is part of the doctoral thesis by Mónica Giménez Márquez. The thesis has been supervised by Guillermo Mínguez and Eugenio Coronado. The three of them are researchers at ICMol.
Intelligent materials respond to external stimulus like light, pressure, temperature or humidity in order to change their properties. These changes allow for the use of these materials as sensors. For example, in recent years some porous materials of metal-organic kind (MOF's) have been designed. They change their properties as they host gas molecules in their pores. This feature has enabled these porous materials to be used as molecular sensors.
However, despite the fact that magnetic materials are outstanding intelligent materials, they have not been used as sensors until now. The reason for this is that magnetism and porosity are two opposite properties: the first needs absence of pores to bring the metallic centers closer and thus trigger interaction; the second requires organic spacers to separate metallic centers and generate pores.
The authors of the work have demonstrated that it is possible to modulate magnetic properties through a chemical stimulus in absence of pores, thus avoiding the problem of combining magnetism and gas absorption. The paper is published in a recent issue of Nature Communications.
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