Direct Observation of Modulated Radical Spin States in Metal-Organic Frameworks by Controlled Flexibility

Xiaofeng Chen*, Haomiao Xie, Emmaline R. Lorenzo, Charles J. Zeman, Yue Qi, Zoha H. Syed, Aaron E.B.S. Stone, Yao Wang, Subhadip Goswami, Peng Li, Timur Islamoglu, Emily A. Weiss, Joseph T. Hupp, George C. Schatz, Michael R. Wasielewski, Omar K. Farha*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Owing to their switchable spin states and dynamic electronic character, organic-based radical species have been invoked in phenomena unique to a variety of fields. When incorporated in solid state materials, generation of organic radicals proves challenging due to aggregation. Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) are promising candidates for immobilization and stabilization of organic radicals because of the tunable spatial arrangement of organic linkers and metal nodes, which sequesters the reactive species. Herein, a flexible, redox-active tetracarboxylic acid linker bearing two imidazole units was chosen to construct a new Zr6-MOF, NU-910, with scu topology. By exploiting the structural flexibility of NU-910, we successfully modulate the dynamics between an isolated organic radical species and an organic radical π-dimer species in the MOF system. Single-crystal X-ray diffraction analysis reveals that through solvent exchange from N,N-diethylformamide to acetone, NU-910 undergoes a structural contraction with interlinker distances decreasing from 8.32 Å to 3.20 Å at 100 K. Organic radical species on the bridging linkers are generated via UV light irradiation. Direct observation of temperature-induced spin switches from an isolated radical species to a magnetically silent radical π-dimer in NU-910 after irradiation in the solid state was achieved via variable-temperature single-crystal X-ray diffraction and variable-temperature electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy. Ultraviolet-visible-near infrared spectroscopy and density functional theory calculations further substantiated the formation of a radical cation π-dimer upon irradiation. This work demonstrates the potential of using flexible MOFs as a platform to modulate radical spin states in the solid phase.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2685-2693
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number6
StatePublished - Feb 16 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Catalysis
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Direct Observation of Modulated Radical Spin States in Metal-Organic Frameworks by Controlled Flexibility'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this