New research could lead to practical uses for metal-organic frameworks

Sep 25, 2008
New research could lead to practical uses for metal-organic frameworks
Argonne scientist Karena Chapman examines the diamond anvil pressure cell at the Advanced Photon Source.

( -- Scientists at U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National laboratory are putting the pressure on metal-organic frameworks (MOF).

In MOF materials, metal ions can be connected by organic molecules to form scaffolding-like structures similar to a molecular Tinker toy. The struts that make up the framework structure do not fill space efficiently, in the way that Lego blocks might, leaving extra spaces in the structure which are capable of containing guest molecules.

Behaving as molecular-scale sponges these MOFs have wide ranging potential uses for filtering, capturing or detecting molecules such as carbon dioxide or hydrogen storage for fuel cells.

"By examining the framework at various pressures," scientist Karena Chapman said. "We found that the MOF compresses rapidly at high pressures."

Since the MOF frameworks do not fill space efficiently, the structures are particularly sensitive to even relatively moderate applied pressures. For any carbon dioxide or hydrogen gas storage applications, the MOF materials (which are generally formed as fine particles or small crystals) will need to be compressed into pellets to optimize the volume capacity (an important target parameter). This would subject the structure to pressures up to several gigapascals (GPa).

While a few GPa of pressure would have minimal impact on denser oxide-based materials, MOFs may show significant and possibly irreversible distortions to the structure and to the selective gas storage properties.

Understanding how MOF materials can behave under pressure is an important step in taking MOF technology beyond the lab.

Chapman, along with Argonne scientists Gregory Halder and Peter Chupas, synthesized a Copper-Benzenetricarboxylate MOF and subjected the framework to various pressures inside a diamond anvil cell with and without pressure-transmitting fluids at the laboratory's Advanced Photon Source.

X-ray diffraction from the laboratory's Advanced Photon Source data showed a transition from the hard regime where pressure transmitting fluid penetrates the framework cavities to a soft regime where the MOF compresses concertedly.

This uncharacteristic behavior is caused by the presence of smaller molecules in the pressure-transmitting fluid that can permeate the framework's cavities. This leads to a supersaturated state that counteracts the external pressure until a threshold pressure is reached and the MOF rapidly compresses and cannot allow any additional guest molecules into the cavities.

"MOFs have wide and varied potential applications in the real world," Chapman said. "By exploring high pressure phenomenon, we come a step closer to realizing these advanced applications."

A paper on their work can be seen in a recent edition of the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Provided by Argonne National Laboratory

Explore further: Synthesis of a new lean rare earth permanent magnetic compound superior to Nd2Fe14B

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Cagey material acts as alcohol factory

Jul 29, 2014

Some chemical conversions are harder than others. Refining natural gas into an easy-to-transport, easy-to-store liquid alcohol has so far been a logistic and economic challenge. But now, a new material, designed ...

Efficient thermal cooling and heating

Jun 02, 2014

Thermal systems use heat to produce cold, and vice versa. To do so, a material is needed that can dissipate water vapor particularly well and quickly. A new method simply applies this property as a layer ...

Mastering chemical recipes to make new materials

May 09, 2014

Mircea Dincă playfully describes his very serious work making new materials in MIT's Department of Chemistry much like being a kid mixing and matching Legos. A self-described molecular engineer, Dincă assembles ...

Recommended for you

Scientists develop compact medical imaging device

1 hour ago

Scientists at the MIRA research institute, in collaboration with various companies, have developed a prototype of a handy device that combines echoscopy (ultrasound) with photoacoustics. Combining these two ...

User comments : 3

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Sep 25, 2008
aren't MOFs made redundant by graphene?, as far as I'm aware this single atom thickness material can contain helium at several atmospheric pressures
1 / 5 (1) Sep 25, 2008
gmurphy; No, graphene and MOFs are fundamentally different. Graphene can be considered essentially a 2 dimensional material w/ the 3rd dimension the thickness the pi electron clouds on either side of the sheet of 6 sided carbon "chicken wire". MOFs are 3 dimensional polymeric materials w/ metal oxides (Zn, Cu, et al) forming the corners of the repeating units. The metals oxides are connected to (joined together by)organic molecules and these can have a HUGE range of shapes, sizes, and properties, allowing the MOFs to be tailored to have a wide range of desired properties.
not rated yet Sep 29, 2008
Well, other than that they are just the same, right?:)