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Liquid metal–organic frameworks


Metal–organic frameworks (MOFs) are a family of chemically diverse materials, with applications in a wide range of fields, covering engineering, physics, chemistry, biology and medicine. Until recently, research has focused almost entirely on crystalline structures, yet now a clear trend is emerging, shifting the emphasis onto disordered states, including ‘defective by design’ crystals, as well as amorphous phases such as glasses and gels. Here we introduce a strongly associated MOF liquid, obtained by melting a zeolitic imidazolate framework. We combine in situ variable temperature X-ray, ex situ neutron pair distribution function experiments, and first-principles molecular dynamics simulations to study the melting phenomenon and the nature of the liquid obtained. We demonstrate from structural, dynamical, and thermodynamical information that the chemical configuration, coordinative bonding, and porosity of the parent crystalline framework survive upon formation of the MOF liquid.

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Figure 1: Structure of the ZIF-4 crystal, glass, and structural evolution upon heating.
Figure 2: Computational data from ZIF-4 melting: structure and thermodynamics.
Figure 3: Molecular mechanism of ZIF-4 melting.
Figure 4: Structure and dynamics in the ZIF liquid.


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We thank A. Boutin, A. Fuchs, A. Cheetham and R. Vuilleumier for fruitful discussions. This work benefited from the financial support of ANRT (thèse CIFRE 2015/0268). We acknowledge access to HPC platforms provided by a GENCI grant (A0010807069). T.D.B. would like to thank the Royal Society for a University Research Fellowship. We also thank Diamond Light Source for access to beamline I15-1 (EE15676), and D. Keeble and P. Chater for assistance with data collection on I15-1 during its initial commissioning phase. We gratefully acknowledge the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) for access to neutron beamtime at ISIS on the GEM instrument. This research used resources of the Advanced Photon Source (Beamline 11-ID-B, GUP44665), a US Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science User Facility operated for the DOE Office of Science by Argonne National Laboratory under Contract No. DE-AC02-06CH11357.

Author information




T.D.B. and F.-X.C. designed the project. T.D.B. and D.A.K. performed the total scattering experiments, D.A.K. performed all RMC profile experiments and led the data correction. K.W.C. and K.A.B. contributed to the variable temperature total scattering experiments at the Advanced Photon Source. R.G. performed the molecular simulations, which R.G. and F.-X.C. analysed. All authors participated in discussing the data. R.G., T.D.B. and F.-X.C. wrote the manuscript with input from all authors.

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Correspondence to Thomas D. Bennett or François-Xavier Coudert.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Gaillac, R., Pullumbi, P., Beyer, K. et al. Liquid metal–organic frameworks. Nature Mater 16, 1149–1154 (2017).

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