Charge Transport in Zirconium-Based Metal-Organic Frameworks

Chung Wei Kung, Subhadip Goswami, Idan Hod, Timothy C. Wang, Jiaxin Duan, Omar K. Farha, Joseph T. Hupp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations


ConspectusMetal-organic frameworks (MOFs) are a class of crystalline porous materials characterized by inorganic nodes and multitopic organic linkers. Because of their molecular-scale porosity and periodic intraframework chemical functionality, MOFs are attractive scaffolds for supporting and/or organizing catalysts, photocatalysts, chemical-sensing elements, small enzymes, and numerous other functional-property-imparting, nanometer-scale objects. Notably, these objects can be installed after the synthesis of the MOF, eliminating the need for chemical and thermal compatibility of the objects with the synthesis milieu. Thus, postsynthetically functionalized MOFs can present three-dimensional arrays of high-density, yet well-separated, active sites. Depending on the application and corresponding morphological requirements, MOF materials can be prepared in thin-film form, pelletized form, isolated single-crystal form, polycrystalline powder form, mixed-matrix membrane form, or other forms. For certain applications, most obviously catalytic hydrolysis and electro- or photocatalytic water splitting, but also many others, an additional requirement is water stability. MOFs featuring hexa-zirconium(IV)-oxy nodes satisfy this requirement. For applications involving electrocatalysis, charge storage, photoelectrochemical energy conversion, and chemiresistive sensing, a further requirement is electrical conductivity, as embodied in electron or hole transport. As most MOFs, under most conditions, are electrically insulating, imparting controllable charge-transport behavior is both a chemically intriguing and chemically compelling challenge.Herein, we describe three strategies to render zirconium-based metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) tunably electrically conductive and, therefore, capable of transporting charge on the few nanometers (i.e., several molecular units) to few micrometers (i.e., typical dimensions for MOF microcrystallites) scale. The first strategy centers on redox-hopping between periodically arranged, chemically equivalent sites, essentially repetitive electron (or hole) self-exchange. Zirconium nodes are electrically insulating, but they can function as grafting sites for (a) redox-active inorganic clusters or (b) molecular redox couples. Alternatively, charge hopping based on linker redox properties can be exploited. Marcus's theory of electron transfer has proven useful for understanding/predicting trends in redox-hopping based conductivity, most notably, in accounting for variations as great as 3000-fold depending on the direction of charge propagation through structurally anisotropic MOFs. In MOF environments, propagation of electronic charge via redox hopping is necessarily accompanied by movement of charge-compensating ions. Consequently, rates of redox hopping can depend on both the identity and concentration of ions permeating the MOF. In the context of electrocatalysis, an important goal is to transport electronic charge fast enough to match or exceed the inherent activity of MOF-based or MOF-immobilized catalysts.Bandlike electronic conductivity is the focus of an alternative strategy: one based on the introduction of molecular guests capable of forming donor-acceptor charge transfer complexes with the host framework. Theory again can be applied predictively to alter conductivity. A third strategy similarly emphasizes electronic conductivity, but it makes use of added bridges in the form of molecular oligomers or inorganic clusters that can then be linked to span the length of a MOF crystallite. For all strategies, retention of molecular-scale porosity is emphasized, as this property is key to many applications. Finally, while our focus is on Zr-MOFs, the described approaches clearly are extendable to other MOF compositions, as has already been demonstrated, in part, in studies by others.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1187-1195
Number of pages9
JournalAccounts of Chemical Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - 16 Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes

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Copyright © 2020 American Chemical Society.


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