Engendering electrical conductivity in otherwise insulating metal-organic framework (MOF) materials is key to rendering these materials fully functional for a range of potential applications, including electrochemical and photo-electrochemical catalysis. Here we report that the platform MOF, NU-1000, can be made electrically conductive via reversible electrochemical oxidation of a fraction of the framework's tetraphenylpyrene linkers, where the basis for conduction is redox hopping. At a microscopic level, redox hopping is akin to electron self-exchange and is describable by Marcus' well-known theory of electron transfer. At a macroscopic level, the hopping behavior leads to diffusive charge transport and is quantifiable as an apparent diffusion coefficient, Dhopping. Theory suggests that the csq topology of NU-1000, together with its characteristic one-dimensional mesopores, will result in direction-dependent, that is, anisotropic, electrical conductivity. Detailed computations suggest that the governing factor is the strength of electronic coupling between pairs of linkers sited in the a,b plane of the MOF versus the mesopore-aligned c axis of the crystal. The notion has been put to the test experimentally by configuring the MOF as an array of selectively oriented, electrode-supported crystallites, where the rodlike crystallites are either oriented largely normal to the electrode (requiring redox hopping along the c direction) or mainly parallel (requiring redox hopping mainly through the a,b plane). The orientations are preselected by preparing MOF films either via interfacial solvothermal synthesis or via electrophoretic deposition. In semiquantitative accord with computational predictions, Dhopping is up to ∼3500 times larger in the c direction than through the a,b plane. In addition to their fundamental significance, the findings have clear implications for the design and optimization of MOFs for electrocatalysis and for other applications that rely upon electrical conductivity.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry