Geometry and Chemistry: Influence of Pore Functionalization on Molecular Transport and Diffusion in Solvent-Filled Zirconium Metal-Organic Frameworks

R Wang and BC Bukowski and JX Duan and K Zhang and RQ Snurr and JT Hupp, ACS APPLIED MATERIALS & INTERFACES, 15, 51854-51862 (2023).

DOI: 10.1021/acsami.3c08861

Postsynthetic modification (PSM) of metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) enables incorporation of diverse functionalities in pores for chemical separations, drug delivery, and heterogeneous catalysis. However, the effect of PSM on molecular transport, which is essential for most applications of MOFs, has been rarely studied. In this paper, we used perfluoroalkane-functionalized Zr-MOF NU-1008 as a platform to systematically interrogate transport processes and mechanisms in solvated pores. We anchored perfluoroalkanes onto NU-1008 nodes by solvent-assisted ligand incorporation (SALI-n , with n = 3, 5, 7, and 9 denoting the number of fluorinated carbons). Transport of a luminescent molecule, BODIPY, through individual crystallites of four versions of methanol-filled SALI-n was monitored by confocal fluorescence microscopy as a function of time and location. In comparison with the parent NU-1008, the diffusivity of the probe molecules within SALI-n declined by 2- to 7-fold depending on chain length and loading, presumably due to the reduction in pore diameter or adsorptive interactions with perfluoroalkyl chains. Atomistic simulations were performed to uncover the microscopic behavior of the BODIPY diffusion in SALI-n . The perfluoroalkyl chains are observed to stay close to the pore walls, instead of extending toward the pore center. BODIPY molecules, which preferably interact with linkers, were pushed to the interior of the channels as the chain length increased, resulting in solvated diffusion and minor differences in the short-time mobility of BODIPY in SALI-n . This suggested that the observed decline of transport diffusivity in SALI-n mainly stemmed from the reduction in the pore size when these flexible chains are present. We anticipate that this proof of concept will assist in understanding how pore functionalization can physically and chemically affect mass transport in MOFs and will be useful in further guiding the design of PSM to realize the optimal performance of MOFs for various applications.

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