High-stability, zirconium-based metal-organic frameworks are attractive as heterogeneous catalysts and as model supports for uniform arrays of subsequently constructed heterogeneous catalysts - for example, MOF-node-grafted metal-oxy and metal-sulfur clusters. For hexa-Zr(IV)-MOFs characterized by nodes that are less than 12-connected, sites not used for linkers are ideally occupied by reactive and displaceable OH/H2O pairs. The desired pairs are ideal for grafting the aforementioned catalytic clusters, while aqua-ligand lability renders them effective for exposing highly Lewis-acidic Zr(IV) sites (catalytic sites) to candidate reactants. New single-crystal X-ray studies of an eight-connected Zr-MOF, NU-1000, reveal that conventional activation fully removes modulator ligands, but replaces them with three node-blocking formate ligands (from solvent decomposition) and only one OH/H2O pair, not four - a largely overlooked complication that now appears to be general for Zr-MOFs. Here we describe an alternative activation protocol that effectively removes modulators, avoids formate, and installs the full complement of terminal OH/H2O pairs. It does so via an unusual isolatable intermediate featuring eight aqua ligands and four non-ligated chlorides - again as supported by single-crystal X-ray data. We find that complete replacement of node-blocking modulators/formate with the originally envisioned OH/OH2 pairs has striking consequences; here we touch upon just three. First, elimination of unrecognized formate renders aqua ligands much more thermally labile, enabling open Zr(IV) sites to be obtained at lower temperature. Second, in the absence of formate, which otherwise links and locks pairs of node Zr(IV) ions, reversible removal of aqua ligands engenders reversible contraction of MOF meso- and micropores, as evidenced by X-ray diffraction. Third, formate replacement with OH/OH2 pairs renders NU-1000 ca.10× more active for catalytic hydrolytic degradation of a representative simulant of G-type chemical warfare agents.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry