The atom, the molecule, and the covalent organic framework

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Just over a century ago, Lewis published his seminal work on what became known as the covalent bond, which has since occupied a central role in the theory of making organic molecules. With the advent of covalent organic frameworks (COFs), the chemistry of the covalent bond was extended to two- and three-dimensional frameworks. Here, organic molecules are linked by covalent bonds to yield crystalline, porous COFs from light elements (boron, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and silicon) that are characterized by high architectural and chemical robustness. This discovery paved the way for carrying out chemistry on frameworks without losing their porosity or crystallinity, and in turn achieving designed properties in materials. The recent union of the covalent and the mechanical bond in the COF provides the opportunity for making woven structures that incorporate flexibility and dynamics into frameworks.

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