At first glance, it might seem like scientists want to build new compounds from a cookbook rather than a chemical protocol. Northwestern University and UCLA researchers want make a nontoxic and biorenewable metal framework from sugar, some salt, and a little bit of alcohol.
“Edible MOFs are a stunning example of the power of self-assembly from simple and readily available components,” Leonard R. MacGillivray, a University of Iowa chemistry professor, said in a statement.
Considering the fact that most MOFs used today are made from nonrenewable petrochemical sources and transition metals, the edible nanostructures would be cleaner and cheaper way to go. The metal organic framework (MOF) compounds would come in handy in food science, pharmaceuticals, gas storage and purification, catalysis, and chemical sensing.
Creating the edible MOFs wasn't as easy as baking a cake though. The researchers had to get past the asymmetry of the compounds and turn them into crystalline porous materials.
To do so, the Northwestern team hooked up a symmetrical compound to reset the compound's natural tendencies.