Insights into Catalytic Hydrolysis of Organophosphonates at M-OH Sites of Azolate-Based Metal Organic Frameworks

Mohammad Rasel Mian, Haoyuan Chen, Ran Cao, Kent O. Kirlikovali, Randall Q. Snurr, Timur Islamoglu*, Omar K. Farha*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Organophosphorus nerve agents, a class of extremely toxic chemical warfare agents (CWAs), have remained a threat to humanity because of their continued use against civilian populations. To date, Zr(IV)-based metal organic framework (MOFs) are the most prevalent nerve agent hydrolysis catalysts, and relatively few reports disclose MOFs containing nodes with other Lewis acidic transition metals. In this work, we leveraged this synthetic tunability to explore how the identity of the transition metal node in the M-MFU-4l series of MOFs (M = Zn, Cu, Ni, Co) influences the catalytic performance toward the hydrolysis of the nerve agent simulant dimethyl (4-nitrophenyl)phosphate (DMNP). Experimental studies reveal that Cu-MFU-4l exhibits the best performance in this series with a half-life for hydrolysis of ∼2 min under these conditions. In contrast, both Ni- and Co-MFU-4l demonstrate significantly slower reactivity toward DMNP, as they both fail to surpass 30% conversion of DMNP after 1 h under analogous conditions. Further modification of the active site within Cu-MFU-4l is possible, and we found that although the identity of the anion coordinated to the Cu(II)-X (X = Cl-, HCOO-, ClO4-, NO3-) active site has little influence on the catalytic performance, reduction of the Cu(II) sites yields nodes that contain Cu(I) ions in a trigonal geometry with open metal sites, leading to remarkable catalytic activity with a half-life for hydrolysis less than 2 min. Computational studies indicate the Cu(I) sites exhibit stronger binding affinities than Cu(II) to both water and DMNP, which corroborates the experimental results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9893-9900
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number26
StatePublished - Jul 7 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Catalysis
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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