Transformation networks of metal–organic cages controlled by chemical stimuli
The flexibility of biomolecules enables them to adapt and transform as a result of signals received from the external environment, expressing different functions in different contexts. In similar fashion, coordination cages can undergo stimuli-triggered transformations owing to the dynamic nature of the metal–ligand bonds that hold them together. Different types of stimuli can trigger dynamic reconfiguration of these metal–organic assemblies, to switch on or off desired functionalities. Such adaptable systems are of interest for applications in switchable catalysis, selective molecular recognition or as transformable materials. This review highlights recent advances in the transformation of cages using chemical stimuli, providing a catalogue of reported strategies to transform cages and thus allow the creation of new architectures. Firstly we focus on strategies for transformation through the introduction of new cage components, which trigger reconstitution of the initial set of components. Secondly we summarize conversions triggered by external stimuli such as guests, concentration, solvent or pH, highlighting the adaptation processes that coordination cages can undergo. Finally, systems capable of responding to multiple stimuli are described. Such systems constitute composite chemical networks with the potential for more complex behaviour. We aim to offer new perspectives on how to design transformation networks, in order to shed light on signal-driven transformation processes that lead to the preparation of new functional metal–organic architectures.