2018 Ignite Project: MOFtors

Enzyme-powered, metal-organic framework based motors

Project overview

MOFtors was awarded the BIST Ignite Grant in March 2019.

In our project, MOFtors, we propose to construct for the first time enzyme-powered motors based on metalorganic frameworks (MOFs) and as a long-term goal to use them for environmental and biomedical applications. For this purpose, we aim to take advantage of a new type of solid-gas chemistry (clip-off chemistry) developed at ICN2 to create mesoporosity in microporous MOFs. Such rare coexistence of two distinct types of porosity in multicompartmental material could then be used for distinct purposes:

– Create an enzyme powered self-propelled motor, thanks to the pioneer expertise of IBEC, by encapsulating enzymes in the MOF mesopores (short term, 8 months).

– Use the microporosity of the optimized MOFtor for adsorption/release of small molecules of interest such as drugs and pollutants (long term, 36 months)

Prior to the long-term objective, the first stage of the project has been divided into three work packages (WPs).

WP1 consists in the synthesis and characterization of microporous MOFs, and their transformation into multicompartmental platforms by using clip-off chemistry to create mesoporosity, i.e. pores of sufficient size to accommodate enzymes.

In WP2, we will proceed to the encapsulation of enzymes into the mesopores and characterize the selfpropulsion of the enzyme@MOFs materials.

Finally, WP3 will permit us to get insights on the best material resulting from WP1 and WP2, by understanding the effect of particle size, amount of enzyme encapsulated, etc. As a proof of concept to validate the first stage of the project, we will use the micropores (too small to accommodate enzymes) to perform dye removal tests and validate the viability of our long-term objective.

Multidisciplinarity within MOFtors

Multidisciplinarity and continuous interaction between the two groups at ICN2 and IBEC is the essence of our project. The redaction of this IGNITE project through contribution of all the team members has already permitted learning about each other’s expertise. Besides the meetings that will be held monthly, the objectives have been defined so that the project is not feasible independently and neither of the two laboratories will work in an isolated manner.

We have designed three work packages, the first two functioning in a loop fashion, adapting the materials prepared at ICN2 according to the feedback from the IBEC researchers who will perform the enzyme encapsulation in the second work package. This will permit the team members to be constantly in contact, and allow each of us to gain knowledge outside of our respective fields of expertise. In the third work package, both group’s expertise will be critical for the full understanding of the relations between the chemical and physical properties of the motors and their performance.

Specifically, the ICN2 members will benefit from the expertise of IBEC members in bioengineering of active matter, catalysis, in physics at the nanoscale, and especially on the tracking code they developed. Their experience will be crucial for the choice of enzymes to be encapsulated, the encapsulation process, the propulsion tests and the characterization. In parallel, the IBEC members will make use of the expertise of ICN2 members in MOF synthesis, molecule downsizing to the nanoscale, gas sorption characterization, and clip-off chemistry, to produce materials with finely tuned porosity, adaptable properties and for the characterization of the motors.

Finally, due to the important number of ideas that emerged during the weeks of the project preparation period, there is no doubt our collaboration will be fruitful, merging two distinct but complementary fields with the mutual goal of producing innovative solutions to address current and future environmental, biomedical needs, etc.

More information about MOFtors, including an updated abstract as of January 2020 can be downloaded below:

MOFtors PDF Jan. 2020

Project members

Vincent Guillerm

Postdoctoral Researcher at ICN2

Tania Patiño Padial

Postdoctoral Researcher at IBEC

Inhar Imaz

Senior Researcher at ICN2

Daniel Maspoch

ICREA Research Professor and Group Leader at ICN2

Xavier Arqué

PhD Student at IBEC

Samuel Sánchez

ICREA Research Professor and Group Leader at IBEC

Institutional Members of the Board of Trustees