Metal–organic frameworks (MOFs) are a revolutionary new class of crystalline solids that can be designed to trap myriad kinds of matter, including greenhouse gases, or to be used as nanosized drug carriers. They can also pull water from desert air.
Turning an undesirable substance into something valuable seems like the plot of an old fable, but UC Berkeley researchers Chris Chang and Omar Yaghi may have done just that. Their invention, covalent organic frameworks, or COFs, can transform atmospheric carbon dioxide into a useful building block for biodegradable plastics, fuel, and more.
Chang likens COFs to TinkerToys, though at a nano scale. They consist of strings of carbon crystals that are special in their unique porosity, as they can be custom tailored to capture the chemical of choice.