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Crystalline Nets Snare Water and Make Fuel from Thin Air

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Crystalline Nets Snare Water and Make Fuel from Thin Air

Having solved stability problems, chemists think metal-organic frameworks are ready for a commercial ascent.


5 min read
4 take-aways
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What's inside?

Scientists can now literally pull solutions to the world’s water and energy crises out of thin air.

Editorial Rating



  • Analytical
  • Scientific
  • Applicable


Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) caused great excitement in the scientific community when chemists first synthesized them in the 1990s, but the hype quickly died down as cost and stability issues became apparent. Robert F. Service revives this excitement with this inspiring account of how the tireless efforts might pay off.  MOFs are nearly ready to be commercialized. He presents the possible MOF-based solutions to real-world problems as reported by some of the world’s top MOF chemists. This article shows how seemingly far-fetched ideas can lead to very tangible solutions.


Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) could supply a small village with drinking water.

Materials scientists have acknowledged metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) as valuable materials that scientists could use for a wide range of applications. However, their high manufacturing cost and poor stability over time have hindered their use for real-world applications.

Omar Yaghi and his team at the University of California, Berkeley, have developed an aluminum-based MOF that, when incorporated into a solar-powered device roughly the size of a microwave, ...

About the Author

Robert F. Service obtained a master’s degree in scientific and environmental reporting from New York University and his articles on chemistry and materials science have appeared in publications such as Scientific American.

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