Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is a major air pollutant causing significant environmental1,2 and health problems3,4. We report reversible adsorption of NO2 in a robust metal–organic framework. Under ambient conditions, MFM-300(Al) exhibits a reversible NO2 isotherm uptake of 14.1 mmol g−1, and, more importantly, exceptional selective removal of low-concentration NO2 (5,000 to <1 ppm) from gas mixtures. Complementary experiments reveal five types of supramolecular interaction that cooperatively bind both NO2 and N2O4 molecules within MFM-300(Al). We find that the in situ equilibrium 2NO2 ↔ N2O4 within the pores is pressure-independent, whereas ex situ this equilibrium is an exemplary pressure-dependent first-order process. The coexistence of helical monomer–dimer chains of NO2 in MFM-300(Al) could provide a foundation for the fundamental understanding of the chemical properties of guest molecules within porous hosts. This work may pave the way for the development of future capture and conversion technologies.

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We thank the EPSRC (EP/I011870), the ERC (AdG 226593) and the Universities of Manchester and Nottingham for funding. We thank the EPSRC for funding of the EPSRC National Service for EPR Spectroscopy at Manchester. We are especially grateful to ORNL and the ESRF for access to the Beamlines VISION and ID22, respectively. We thank C. Dejoie for help at Beamline ID22 at the ESRF. The computing resources were made available through the VirtuES and the ICE-MAN projects, funded by the Laboratory Directed Research and Development program at ORNL. A.M.S. thanks the Russian Science Foundation (grant no. 17-73-10320) and the Royal Society of Chemistry for funding. M.S. acknowledges the Russian Ministry of Science and Education for the award of a Russian Megagrant (14.Z50.31.0006).

Author information


  1. School of Chemistry, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK

    • Xue Han
    • , Harry G. W. Godfrey
    • , Lydia Briggs
    • , Alena M. Sheveleva
    • , Floriana Tuna
    • , Eric J. L. McInnes
    • , Sihai Yang
    •  & Martin Schröder
  2. School of Chemistry, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK

    • Andrew J. Davies
    •  & Michael W. George
  3. Chemical and Engineering Materials Division (CEMD), Neutron Sciences Directorate, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN, USA

    • Yongqiang Cheng
    • , Luke L. Daemen
    •  & Anibal J. Ramirez-Cuesta
  4. International Tomography Center SB RAS and Novosibirsk State University, Novosibirsk, Russia

    • Alena M. Sheveleva
  5. College of Chemistry and Molecular Engineering, Peking University, Beijing, China

    • Junliang Sun
  6. European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, Grenoble, France

    • Christina Drathen
  7. Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, University of Nottingham Ningbo China, Ningbo, China

    • Michael W. George
  8. Northern Carbon Research Laboratories, School of Chemical Engineering and Advanced Materials, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

    • K. Mark Thomas


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X.H., H.G.W.G. and L.B. performed syntheses, characterization of MOF samples and measurements of adsorption isotherms. X.H. carried out measurements and analysis of the breakthrough data. K.M.T. performed analysis of isotherms. S.Y., J.S. and C.D. were responsible for collection and analysis of synchrotron PXRD data. S.Y., Y.C., L.L.D. and A.J.R.-C. were responsible for collection and analysis of neutron scattering data. A.J.D. and M.W.G. were responsible for collection and analysis of infrared data. X.H., A.M.S., F.T. and E.J.L.M. were responsible for collection and analysis of EPR data. S.Y. and M.S. were responsible for the overall direction of the project and preparation of the manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Sihai Yang or Martin Schröder.

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