School Seminar: A/Prof. Tom Bennett, Cambridge University – School of Chemistry School Seminar: A/Prof. Tom Bennett, Cambridge University – School of Chemistry

School Seminar: A/Prof. Tom Bennett, Cambridge University

Looking Beyond Crystallinity in  Metal-Organic Frameworks

Friday, 3 March – 11:00am – 12:00pm (FEM, School Seminar)

Location: Chemistry Lecture Theatre 4 and Online (Zoom)

Speaker: A/Prof. Tom Bennett, Cambridge University

Host:  Prof. Deanna D’Alessandro

Abstract: Metal-organic framework (MOF) materials are often ordered, (crystalline) solids. Order—or uniformity— is frequently held to be advantageous, or even pivotal, to our ability to engineer useful properties in a rational way. Here, we will look at the difference between amorphous, and glassy solids, and cover the mechanisms underpinning the shear-induced collapse of MOFs. Using the crystalline MIL-100 / amorphous Fe-BTC pairing as an example, we will then address the poorly understood structure of the latter. Specifically, we show an experimental-computational approach to generate a ‘structure’ for Fe-BTC, and show it may outperform MIL-100 In terms of gas separation.1

We will demonstrate the several families of MOFs known to form stable liquids at high temperature,2,3 with quenching leading to the formation of glasses which retain the three-dimensional inorganic-organic bonding of the crystalline phase. These are a new category of glass, exterior to metallic, inorganic and organic species. The uses of such materials will be evaluated, before we finally show how the formation of composites containing both MOF, and glass phases may find use in applications. 4,5

1          Sapnik, A. F. et al. Mixed hierarchical local structure in a disordered metal-organic framework. Nat Commun 12, 2062, (2021).

2          Shaw, B. K. et al. Melting of hybrid organic-inorganic perovskites. Nat Chem 13, 778–785, doi:10.1038/s41557-021-00681-7 (2021).

3          Bennett, T. D., Coudert, F. X., James, S. L. & Cooper, A. I. The changing state of porous materials. Nat Mater 20, 1179-1187, (2021).

4          Hou, J. et al. Liquid-phase sintering of lead halide perovskites and metal-organic framework glasses. Science 374, 621-625 (2021).

5          Longley, L. et al. Metal-Organic Framework and Inorganic Glass Composites. Nat Commun 11, 5800 (2020).

Bio: Tom was born in South Shields, in the North-East of England, in 1986.  He read the Natural Sciences Tripos at the University of Cambridge, specialising in Chemistry and gaining a 1st class MSci (Hons) in 2008. He then moved across to the Materials Science and Metallurgy Department, to study the physical properties of porous hybrid frameworks under Professor Anthony Cheetham FRS.

A  3 year Research Fellowship at Trinity Hall, University of Cambridge followed, alongside lecturing some of the 1B Materials Chemistry course at the department. He started a Royal Society University Research Fellowship in 2016, along with a visiting adjunct professor position at The Wuhan University of Technology and a visiting scientist position at CSIRO Melbourne. The research group is best known for the seminal works on hybrid melt-quenched glasses, and exploring the interface of the coordination polymer, MOF and glass domains.

In his career to date, Tom has been fortunate enough to receive the EPSRC post-doctoral prize (2012), the Panalytical award for an outstanding contribution to X-ray diffraction (2013), the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source Science Impact Award (2018), the Woldemar A. Weyl award for glass science (2019), the Philip Leverhulme Prize in Chemistry (2019) and the Royal Society of Chemistry Harrison Meldola Memorial Prize (2020).

He has spent research stays in both the University of Kyoto (hosted by Prof. Susumu Kitagawa and Prof. Satoshi Horike), and the University of Canterbury, New Zealand (hosted by Prof. Paul Kruger). He has served as both vice-Chair of the International Zeolite Association Commission on MOFs (2019 – 2022), and inaugural chair of the Royal Society of Chemistry Interest Group on Porous Materials (2019-2022).The committee were awarded the inspirational committee award by the Royal Society of Chemistry in 2021. This was for admitting over 300 members as the RSC’s newest interest group, and organisation of events during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tom is passionate regarding outreach activities, and frequently gives talks on access to higher education. He loves hiking, camping, and river crossings. He has an energetic dog, Albie, which is a Springer-Collie cross.




Feb 24 2023


8:00 am - 6:00 pm


Chemistry Lecture Theatre 4
Level 2, School of Chemistry

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