Investigating the Process and Mechanism of Molecular Transport within a Representative Solvent-Filled Metal-Organic Framework

Rui Wang, Brandon C. Bukowski, Jiaxin Duan, Thomas R. Sheridan, Ahmet Atilgan, Kun Zhang, Randall Q. Snurr, Joseph T. Hupp*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Effective permeation into, and diffusive mass transport within, solvent-filled metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) is critical in applications such as MOF-based chemical catalysis of condensed-phase reactions. In this work, we studied the entry from solution of a luminescent probe molecule, 1,3,5,7-tetramethyl-4,4-difluoroboradiazaindacene (BODIPY), into the 1D channel-type, zirconium-based MOF NU-1008 and subsequent transport of the probe through the MOF. Measurements were accomplished via in situ confocal fluorescence microscopy of individual crystallites, where the evolution of the fluorescence response from the crystallite was followed as functions of both time and location within the crystallite. From the confocal data, intracrystalline transport of BODIPY is well-described by one-dimensional diffusion along the channel direction. Varying the chemical identity of the solvent revealed an inverse dependence of probe-molecule diffusivity on bulk-solvent viscosity, qualitatively consistent with expectations from the Stokes-Einstein equation for molecular diffusion. At a more quantitative level, however, measured diffusion coefficients are about 100-fold smaller than expected from Stokes-Einstein, pointing to substantial channel-confinement effects. Evaluation of the confocal data also reveals a non-negligible mass transport resistance, i.e., surface barrier, associated with the probe molecule leaving the solution and permeating the exterior surface of the MOF. Permeation by the probe entails displacement of solvent from the MOF channels. The magnitude of the resistance increases with the size of the solvent molecule. This work draws attention to the importance of MOF structure, external-surface barriers, and solvent molecule identity to the overall transport process in MOFs, which should assist in understanding the performance of MOFs in applications such as condensed-phase heterogeneous catalysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10853-10859
Number of pages7
Issue number36
StatePublished - Sep 15 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Spectroscopy
  • Electrochemistry


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