What is it about?

This review is about molecules or nanoparticles in porous host materials. The guest species, driven by interactions with themselves and with the host matrix, form regular structures inside pores, cavities, or channels of molecular size. The resulting compounds have interesting optical and electronic properties, which are exploited in various applications. For example, luminescent silver clusters or dye molecules can be incorporated into zeolites or metal organic frameworks, leading to applications in solar cells, catalysis, sensing and photonics. There are many possible ways to produce these organized "host-guest" materials, which have been successfully tested in actual devices as well.

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Why is it important?

We use porous matrices – zeolites, mesoporous materials, metal organic frameworks – to organize molecules and produce technologically relevant materials. How can we improve the ordering of the molecules and the performances of the materials? Here, mineral science can help. Many minerals have regular porous structures, which contain organized assemblies of simple molecules. These assemblies are surprisingly resistant to high temperatures or high pressures. Understanding why these natural architectures are so stable may give us hints for designing new robust host-guest materials.


Incorporation of molecules or nanoparticles in porous materials ("confinement"), has brought us many technologically relevant materials, already exploited in applications ranging from solar energy harvesting to nanomedicine. Understanding the link between structure and functionality of these materials is the key for further progress. This could be obtained by integrating diverse experimental methods with computational modeling. Hence, collaboration between reserarchers of different scientific areas would be crucial. High pressures combined with the shaping effect of zeolitic cages is a promising approach to realize new materials based on ordered molecular structures. Extension of the approach to metal organic frameworks is among the most exciting future perspectives of this research field. More generally, minerals and the earth-science know-how may be very important for the progress of host-guest materials for technological use or environmental protection. For all these reasons, we should pay greater attention to the profound links between natural and artificial host-guest materials.

Gloria Tabacchi
university of insubria

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Cover Feature: Supramolecular Organization in Confined Nanospaces (ChemPhysChem 11/2018), ChemPhysChem, April 2018, Wiley,
DOI: 10.1002/cphc.201800272.
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