Recent progress in covalent organic framework thin films: fabrications, applications and perspectives
As a newly emerging class of porous materials, covalent organic frameworks (COFs) have attracted much attention due to their intriguing structural merits (e.g., total organic backbone, tunable porosity and predictable structure). However, the insoluble and unprocessable features of bulk COF powder limit their applications. To overcome these limitations, considerable efforts have been devoted to exploring the fabrication of COF thin films with controllable architectures, which open the door for their novel applications. In this critical review, we aim to provide the recent advances in the fabrication of COF thin films not only supported on substrates but also as free-standing nanosheets via both bottom-up and top-down strategies. The bottom-up strategy involves solvothermal synthesis, interfacial polymerization, room temperature vapor-assisted conversion, and synthesis under continuous flow conditions; whereas, the top-down strategy involves solvent-assisted exfoliation, self-exfoliation, mechanical delamination, and chemical exfoliation. In addition, the applications of COF thin films including energy storage, semiconductor devices, membrane-separation, sensors, and drug delivery are summarized. Finally, to accelerate further research, a personal perspective covering their synthetic strategies, mechanisms and applications is presented.