Recent studies on the effect of particle shapes have led to extensive applications of anisotropic colloids as complex materials building blocks. Although much research has been devoted to colloids of convex polyhedral shapes, branched colloids remain largely underexplored because of limited synthesis strategies. Here we achieved the preparation of metal-organic framework (MOF) colloids in a hexapod shape, not directly from growth but from postsynthesis etching of truncated rhombic dodecahedron (TRD) parent particles. To understand the branch development, we used in situ optical microscopy to track the local surface curvature evolution of the colloids as well as facet-dependent etching rate. The hexapods show unique properties, such as improved catalytic activity in a model Knoevenagel reaction likely due to enhanced access to active sites, and the assembly into open structures which can be easily integrated with a self-rolled-up nanomembrane structure. Both the postsynthesis etching and the hexapod colloids demonstrated here show a new route of engineering micrometer-sized building blocks with exotic shapes and intrinsic functionalities originated from the molecular structure of materials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)40990-40995
Number of pages6
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number48
StatePublished - Dec 5 2018


  • ZIF-8 colloids
  • catalysis
  • hexapod
  • metal-organic frameworks
  • self-rolled-up nanomembranes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)


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