Colloidal metal-organic frameworks (CMOFs), nanoporous colloidal-sized crystals that are uniform in both size and polyhedral shape, are crystals composed of metal ions and organic bridging ligands, which can be used as building blocks for self-assembly in organic and aqueous liquids. They stand in contrast to conventional metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), which scientists normally study in the form of bulk crystalline powders. However, powder MOFs generally have random crystal size and shape and therefore do not possess either a definite mutual arrangement with adjacent particles or uniformity. CMOFs do have this quality, which can be important in vital uptake and release kinetics.In this Account, we present the diverse methods of synthesis, pore chemistry control, surface modification, and assembly techniques of CMOFs. In addition, we survey recent achievements and future applications in this emerging field. There is potential for a paradigm shift, away from using just bulk crystalline powders, towards using particles whose size and shape are regulated. The concept of colloidal MOFs takes into account that nanoporous MOFs, conventionally prepared in the form of bulk crystalline powders with random crystal size, shape, and orientation, may also form colloidal-sized objects with uniform size and morphology. Furthermore, the traditional MOF functions that depend on porosity present additional control over those MOF functions that depend on pore interactions. They also can enable controlled spatial arrangements between neighboring particles.To begin, we discuss progress regarding synthesis of MOF nano- and microcrystals whose crystal size and shape are well regulated. Next, we review the methods to modify the surfaces with dye molecules and polymers. Dyes are useful when seeking to observe nonluminescent CMOFs in situ by optical microscopy, while polymers are useful to tune their interparticle interactions. Third, we discuss criteria to assess the stability of CMOFs for various applications. In another section of this Account, we give examples of supracrystal assembly in liquid, on substrates, at interfaces, and under external electric fields. We end this Account with discussion of possible future developments, both conceptual and technological.
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