Everyone knows water or any liquid damages electronics, corroding the components; but a diverse team of researchers from the University of Leuven in Belgium, the National University of Singapore, and CSIRO has come up with a vapor technique for growing designer crystals known as Metal Organic Frameworks (MOFs) to overcome this electronics problem.
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Their finding is published in the journal Nature Materials.
The designer crystals or MOFs are the most porous materials in the world, and they are estimated to boost the efficiency and processing power of microelectronic devices if applied to electronics.
CSIRO researcher Dr. Mark Styles explained that "Just like your smart phone doesn't like being dropped in water, electronic devices don't like the liquid solvent that's used to grow MOF crystals. It can corrode and damage the delicate circuitry. Our new vapor method for growing and applying MOF crystals overcomes this barrier and has the potential to disrupt the microelectronics industry.”
Dr. Styles added that MOF crystals on an atomic scale appear in sizes that can be modified to various shapes, making them up to 80% empty by their large surface area. And since a gram of MOF crystals has a surface area of more than 5000 square meters, the large space could be used to capture other molecules which can be used to convert the material properties of structures.
"In the case of electronics, this means we can fit a lot more transistors on a microchip, making it faster and far more powerful," he said.
The research team was led by Ivo Stassen and Professor Rob Ameloot of Leuven University in Belgium. They all relied on special X-ray techniques developed by Australian Synchrotron and CSIRO to portray how the vapor process method is used to create MOF crystals.
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Dr. Styles said there is no limit to what MOFs crystals can be applied to: "Another potential use for this technology would be in portable chemical sensing devices that could be used in hazardous environments such as chemical processing plants and underground mines."