S. Borgmans

Exploring the phase stability in interpenetrated diamondoid covalent organic frameworks

S. Borgmans, S.M.J. Rogge, J. De Vos, P. Van der Voort, V. Van Speybroeck
Communications Chemistry
6, 5


Soft porous crystals, which are responsive to external stimuli such as temperature, pressure, or gas adsorption, are being extensively investigated for various technological applications. However, while substantial research has been devoted to stimuli-responsive metal-organic frameworks, structural flexibility in 3D covalent organic frameworks (COFs) remains ill-understood, and is almost exclusively found in COFs exhibiting the diamondoid (dia) topology. Herein, we systemically investigate how the structural decoration of these 3D dia COFs—their specific building blocks and degree of interpenetration—as well as external triggers such as temperature and guest adsorption may promote or suppress their phase transformations, as captured by a collection of 2D free energy landscapes. Together, these provide a comprehensive understanding of the necessary conditions to design flexible diamondoid COFs. This study reveals how their flexibility originates from the balance between steric hindrance and dispersive interactions of the structural decoration, thereby providing insight into how new flexible 3D COFs can be designed.

Gold Open Access

How the Layer Alignment in Two-dimensional Nanoporous Covalent Organic Frameworks Impacts Its Electronic Properties

K. S. Rawat, S. Borgmans, T. Braeckevelt, C.V. Stevens, P. Van der Voort, V. Van Speybroeck
ACS Applied Nano Materials


Two-dimensional nanoporous covalent organic frame-works (2D COFs) have gathered significant interest due to their wide range of applications. Due to the lack of strong covalent interlayer interactions, their layers can be stacked in countless ways, each resulting in unique nanoscale characteristics impacting the structural, chemical, and electronic properties. To characterize and understand the layer stacking in 2D COFs and its effect on the structural and electronic properties, we carried out a detailed density functional theory investigation on four materials, CTF-1, COF-1, COF-5, and Pc-PBBA. This entailed an in-depth evaluation of the potential energy as a function of the interlayer distance and offset, the powder X-ray diffraction (PXRD) pattern, and the electronic properties. From the potential energy surfaces, the typical slipped AA-stacking configuration was confirmed as optimal for each of the 2D COFs, with a slight offset from a perfect alignment of the layers. The statically calculated PXRD patterns based on these optimized stacking configurations showed discrepancies when compared to experimental data. Instead, when properly accounting for dynamic fluctuations by calculating the average diffraction pattern over the course of a molecular dynamics simulation, a better agreement with the experiment is obtained. Different stacking configurations also profoundly affected the electronic band structure of COFs as the interlayer pi-pi interactions are significantly impacted by the layer offset. Evidently, with decreasing layer offsets, the pi-pi interactions increase due to the layer alignment, leading to a decrease in the band gap and an increase in interlayer charge mobility. Our study highlights the need for accurate modeling of the stacking configuration in 2D COFs as a small-scale deviation in the adjacent layer position can significantly affect the structural and electronic properties.

Accurately determining the phase transition temperature of CsPbI3 via RPA calculations and phase-transferable machine learning potentials

T. Braeckevelt, R. Goeminne, S. Vandenhaute, S. Borgmans, T. Verstraelen, J.A. Steele, M. Roeffaers, J. Hofkens, S.M.J. Rogge, V. Van Speybroeck
Chemistry of Materials
34, 19, 8561–8576


While metal halide perovskites (MHPs) have shown great potential for various optoelectronic applications, their widespread adoption in commercial photovoltaic cells or photosensors is currently restricted, given that MHPs such as CsPbI3 and FAPbI3 spontaneously transition to an optically inactive nonperovskite phase at ambient conditions. Herein, we put forward an accurate first-principles procedure to obtain fundamental insight into this phase stability conundrum. To this end, we computationally predict the Helmholtz free energy, composed of the electronic ground state energy and thermal corrections, as this is the fundamental quantity describing the phase stability in polymorphic materials. By adopting the random phase approximation method as a wave function-based method that intrinsically accounts for many-body electron correlation effects as a benchmark for the ground state energy, we validate the performance of different exchange-correlation functionals and dispersion methods. The thermal corrections, accessed through the vibrational density of states, are accessed through molecular dynamics simulations, using a phase-transferable machine learning potential to accurately account for the MHPs’ anharmonicity and mitigate size effects. The here proposed procedure is critically validated on CsPbI3, which is a challenging material as its phase stability changes slowly with varying temperature. We demonstrate that our procedure is essential to reproduce the experimental transition temperature, as choosing an inadequate functional can easily miss the transition temperature by more than 100 K. These results demonstrate that the here validated methodology is ideally suited to understand how factors such as strain engineering, surface functionalization, or compositional engineering could help to phase-stabilize MHPs for targeted applications.

Open Access version available at UGent repository

Stable Amorphous Solid Dispersion of Flubendazole with High Drug Loading via Solvent Electrospinning

J. Becelaere, E. Van den Broeck, E. Schoolaert, V. Vanhoorne, J. F.R. Van Guyse, M. Vergaelen, S. Borgmans, K. Creemers, V. Van Speybroeck, C. Vervaet, R. Hoogenboom, K. De Clerck
Journal of controlled release
351, November 2022, Pages 123-126


In this work, an important step is taken towards the bioavailability improvement of poorly water-soluble drugs, such as flubendazole (Flu), posing a challenge in the current development of many novel oral-administrable therapeutics. Solvent electrospinning of a solution of the drug and poly(2-ethyl-2-oxazoline) is demonstrated to be a viable strategy to produce stable nanofibrous amorphous solid dispersions (ASDs) with ultrahigh drug-loadings (up to 55 wt% Flu) and long-term stability (at least one year). Importantly, at such high drug loadings, the concentration of the polymer in the electrospinning solution has to be lowered below the concentration where it can be spun in absence of the drug as the interactions between the polymer and the drug result in increased solution viscosity. A combination of experimental analysis and molecular dynamics simulations revealed that this formulation strategy provides strong, dominant and highly stable hydrogen bonds between the polymer and the drug, which is crucial to obtain the high drug-loadings and to preserve the long-term amorphous character of the ASDs upon storage. In vitro drug release studies confirm the remarkable potential of this electrospinning formulation strategy by significantly increased drug solubility values and dissolution rates (respectively tripled and quadrupled compared to the crystalline drug), even after storing the formulation for one year.

Quantifying the likelihood of structural models through a dynamically enhanced powder X‐ray diffraction protocol

S. Borgmans, S.M.J. Rogge, J. De Vos, C.V. Stevens, P. Van der Voort, V. Van Speybroeck
Angewandte Chemie int. Ed.
60 (16), 8913-8922


Structurally characterizing new materials is tremendously challenging, especially when single crystal structures are hardly available which is often the case for covalent organic frameworks. Yet, knowledge of the atomic structure is key to establish structure‐function relations and enable functional material design. Herein a new protocol is proposed to unambiguously predict the structure of poorly crystalline materials through a likelihood ordering based on the X‐ray diffraction (XRD) pattern. Key of the procedure is the broad set of structures generated from a limited number of building blocks and topologies, which is submitted to operando structural characterization. The dynamic averaging in the latter accounts for the operando conditions and inherent temporal character of experimental measurements, yielding unparalleled agreement with experimental powder XRD patterns. The proposed concept can hence unquestionably identify the structure of experimentally synthesized materials, a crucial step to design next generation functional materials.

Gold Open Access

Strongly Reducing (Diarylamino)benzene Based Covalent Organic Framework for Metal-Free Visible Light Photocatalytic H2O2 Generation

C. Krishnaraj, H. S. Jena, L. Bourda, A. Laemont, P. Pachfule, J. Roeser, C. V. Chandran, S. Borgmans, S.M.J. Rogge, K. Leus, C.V. Stevens, J.A. Martens, V. Van Speybroeck, E. Breynaert, A. Thomas, P. Van der Voort
JACS (Journal of the American Chemical Society)
142 (47), 20107-20116


Photocatalytic reduction of molecular oxygen is a promising route toward sustainable production of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). This challenging process requires photoactive semiconductors enabling solar energy driven generation and separation of electrons and holes with high charge transfer kinetics. Covalent organic frameworks (COFs) are an emerging class of photoactive semiconductors, tunable at a molecular level for high charge carrier generation and transfer. Herein, we report two newly designed two-dimensional COFs based on a (diarylamino)benzene linker that forms a Kagome (kgm) lattice and shows strong visible light absorption. Their high crystallinity and large surface areas (up to 1165 m2·g−1) allow efficient charge transfer and diffusion. The diarylamine (donor) unit promotes strong reduction properties, enabling these COFs to efficiently reduce oxygen to form H2O2. Overall, the use of a metal-free, recyclable photocatalytic system allows efficient photocatalytic solar transformations.

Gold Open Access

Accurately determining the transition temperature of metal halide perovskites via RPA calculations and phase-transferable machine learning potentials


Conference / event / venue 

Brussels, Belgium
Monday, 29 August, 2022 to Friday, 2 September, 2022


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