A common feature of multi-functional metal-organic frameworks is a metal dimer in the form of a paddlewheel, as found in the structure of Cu3(btc)2 (HKUST-1). The HKUST-1 framework demonstrates exceptional gas storage, sensing and separation, catalytic activity and, in recent studies, unprecedented ionic and electrical conductivity. These results are a promising step towards the real-world application of metal-organic materials. In this perspective, we discuss progress in the understanding of the electronic, magnetic and physical properties of HKUST-1, representative of the larger family of Cu⋯Cu containing metal-organic frameworks. We highlight the chemical interactions that give rise to its favourable properties, and which make this material well suited to a range of technological applications. From this analysis, we postulate key design principles for tailoring novel high-performance hybrid frameworks.
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