Nanoscale zero-valent iron (nZVI), with its reductive potentials and wide availability, offers degradative remediation of environmental contaminants. Rapid aggregation and deactivation hinder its application in real-life conditions. Here, we show that by caging nZVI into the micropores of porous networks, in particular Covalent Organic Polymers (COPs), we dramatically improved its stability and adsorption capacity, while still maintaining its reactivity1. We probed the nZVI activity by monitoring azo bond reduction and Fenton type degradation of the naphthol blue black azo dye. We found that depending on the wettability of the host COP, the adsorption kinetics and dye degradation capacities changed. The hierarchical porous network of the COP structures enhanced the transport by temporarily holding azo dyes giving enough time and contact for the nZVI to act to break them. nZVI was also found to be more protected from the oxidative conditions since access is gated by the pore openings of COPs.
We also previously reported2 a surfactant-free method to produce Co3O4 nanocrystals with controlled sizes and high dispersity by caging templation of nanoporous networks. The morphologies of Co3O4 nanoparticles differ from wires to particulates by simply varying solvents. The composites of nanoparticles within network polymers are highly porous and are promising for many applications where accessible surface and aggregation prevention are important. The electrochemical performance of the composites demonstrates superior capacity and cyclic stability at a high current density (∼980 mA h g−1 at the 60th cycle at a current density of 1000 mA g−1). In a catalytic oxidation reaction of carbon monoxide, the composites exhibit a remarkable stability (in excess of 35 hours) and catalytic performance (T100 = 100 °C).