IUPAC ’09: Nanofun and marvellous MOFs

I am, like Katharine, attending the 42nd IUPAC General Congress in Glasgow. Chemists from around the globe have descended to discuss chemistry in as broad a sense as possible – there are 20 parallel sessions, and the abstract book weighs 2.4 kg (nearly 5 lb 5 oz for any metricophobes out there). I’m facing a dilemma every session, having to sacrifice 2 or 3 talks that I really want to see! I might do a blog post at the end of the week about the interesting chemistry I DIDN’T have chance to see…

So what have I been doing? After the first plenary (read Phil from Chemistry World’s take on Sir Harry Kroto’s talk here), I went to a session on Adaptive Nanomaterials. It’s interesting to see that in not such a long time, work on nanomaterials has gone from ‘Look, it’s really small!’ to ‘Look, we can sense and discriminate proteins at 5 nanomolar level in a mix of other proteins that are in millimolar concentration!’ And that’s pretty cool. Vince Rotello’s gold nanoparticles need to be functionalised with polymers etc first.

I spent the afternoon hearing about MOFs (metal-organic frameworks). Or are they coordination polymers?? There seems to be a little bit of debate over the matter, but Lee Brammer of Sheffield offered a good distinction: they’re MOFs when they’re open and porous, whereas coordination polymers don’t necessarily have the pores. Anyway, whatever you call them, they were excellent talks about an interesting topic. All of which made me ponder on how the wonderful range of MOFs are all thanks to the quirky nature of transitional metal coordination bonds. Not just tetrahedral for those guys! Eat your heart out carbon [yes, I am inorganic chemist…].

It’s nearly time for day 2 to kick off, so I’m going to head over to the armadillo for Vivian Yam’s plenary.


Neil Withers (Associate Editor, Nature Chemistry)