Overcoming the COF trilemma:
Porous frameworks for
solar energy conversion

Bettina V. Lotsch / Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research, Stuttgart, and University of Munich


January 26, 2022, 2 - 3 pm CET

Online live talk


Like metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), covalent organic frameworks (COFs) are attractive materials for energy conversion and storage because they are widely tunable at the molecular level while being robust and structurally precise. Among this rapidly growing class of organic materials, 2D COFs have given momentum to the development of “all-single-site” heterogenous photocatalysts owing to their tunable optoelectronic properties, combined with ordered porosity.

However, the “COF trilemma” – the challenge of designing COFs that are crystalline, stable, and functional – poses a major bottleneck to the rational design of new COF photocatalysts. In addition, since catalysis occurs at the local level (the “active site”) and is often driven by defects, insight into the local structure and control of disorder and defects is vital.

This talk showcases our recent progress towards the design of COF photocatalysts for the hydrogen evolution reaction with a particular focus on structure–property–activity relationships. We will discuss structural (local and long range), optoelectronic and catalytic boundary conditions guiding our design of all-single-site COF photocatalysts and highlight the importance of real structure effects and defects in COFs and MOFs as a future design principle to create precisely tailored porous frameworks for catalysis and beyond.

Bettina Valeska Lotsch

Bettina Valeska Lotsch is Director of the Nanochemistry Department at the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research (MPI-FKF) in Stuttgart, Germany. She studied Chemistry at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU) and the University of Oxford and received her PhD from LMU Munich in 2006. After a postdoctoral stay at the University of Toronto, she became professor at LMU Munich in 2009 and was appointed Director at MPI-FKF in 2017. She also holds honorary professorships at LMU Munich and the University of Stuttgart, and is PI of the Munich-based Cluster of Excellence e-conversion.

Bettina Lotsch’s research explores the rational synthesis of new materials by combining the tools of molecular, solid-state and nanochemistry. Current research interests include molecular frameworks for solar energy conversion and storage, solid electrolytes for all-solid-state batteries, and “smart” photonic crystals for optical sensing.

Bettina Lotsch was awarded an ERC Starting Grant (2014) and has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC) in 2014. Her work has been recognized by a number of awards, including the EU-40 Materials Prize 2017 of the European Materials Research Society.


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