Monique van der Veen

Framework materials: a dynamic playground for confined water and mechanical sensing

Delft University of Technology, Netherlands


Metal-organic frameworks are 3-D crystalline nanoporous materials build as frameworks from metal ions or inorganic clusters connected via organic linkers. They have been explored for a wide range of applications including adsorptive separations, sensing, catalysis, water harvesting, and so forth.
MOF structures are literally dynamic. For example, their prevalent linker dynamics in MOFs impact gas sorption, sensing, and their stimuli-responsive behavior. In rotor-MOFs, ultrafast rotation can be engineered by lowering the energy barrier through molecular design. Yet, MOFs, offer a unique platform for exploring intricate dynamics. The regular arrangement of rotors in MOFs allows precise control of free pore space and inter-rotor distance, facilitating modulation of rotor "crowdedness" for cooperative motion. I will discuss our success in achieving correlated motions in the MIL-53 family and elucidating rotational motion progression across neighboring linkers—a key aspect to understand if one want to engineer e.g. directed diffusion through correlated linker dynamics.
Energy harvesting and sensing of mechanical motion is possible through the piezoelectric effect.  Their low dielectric permittivity suggest a large potential for precisely these applications. Despite limited studies on MOF piezoelectric response, our high-throughput DFT calculations identified MOFs with competitive 'e' values up to 1.55 μC/m2. Notably a family of Mo-MOF family stands out as a potentially new family of ferroelectric materials. This is particularly exciting, as ferroelectricity means that these materials are easily processable into energy harvesting devices.
Confined and surface-adsorbed water plays a vital role in many biological, geological, and technological processes. I will present the structural characteristics needed to form confined water clusters in nanopores capable of harvesting water from desert air. And I will widen this topic to a vision on understanding and engineering of the structure and kinetics of nanoconfined water, which is fundamental to a wide range of applications.

Short Bio:

Monique A. van der Veen is Associate Professor in the department of Chemical Engineering at Delft University of Technology. In 2010, she obtained her PhD at the university of Leuven, under the guidance of Thierry Verbiest and Dirk De Vos. With a 3-year postdoctoral fellowship from the  Fund for Scientific Research –Flanders she continued to work at the University of Leuven, as well as in the group of Mischa Bonn at the Max-Planck Insitute of Polymer Research in Mainz. In 2013 she started her own group at Delft University of Technology. In 2017 she was awarded an ERC Starting Grant, in 2018 the Athena Prize by the Dutch Science Foundation (NWO) and in 2020 a VIDI Grant by the Dutch Science Foundation (NWO). She is focussed on the development of nanoporous materials for electronics, sensing, and separations.

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