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Prediction of water stability of metal–organic frameworks using machine learning


Owing to their highly tunable structures, metal–organic frameworks (MOFs) are considered suitable candidates for a range of applications, including adsorption, separation, sensing and catalysis. However, MOFs must be stable in water vapour to be considered industrially viable. It is currently challenging to predict water stability in MOFs; experiments involve time-intensive MOF synthesis, while modelling techniques do not reliably capture the water stability behaviour. Here, we build a machine learning-based model to accurately and instantly classify MOFs as stable or unstable depending on the target application, or the amount of water exposed. The model is trained using an empirically measured dataset of water stabilities for over 200 MOFs, and uses a comprehensive set of chemical features capturing information about their constituent metal node, organic ligand and metal–ligand molar ratios. In addition to screening stable MOF candidates for future experiments, the trained models were used to extract a number of simple water stability trends in MOFs. This approach is general and can also be used to screen MOFs for other design criteria.

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Fig. 1: Workflow adopted to build ML models of water stability in MOFs.
Fig. 2: MOF water stability training data.
Fig. 3: Performance of the classification models to predict water stability in MOFs.
Fig. 4: Mined chemical trends.

Data availability

The MOF water-stability data (illustrated in Fig. 2) used to train the models were obtained from ref. 13. The water-stability data used for validation (recent 10 MOFs) and screening (88 new MOFs) were obtained from the literature as cited in the Article. These datasets, including MOF features, are deposited at Source data are provided with this paper.

Code availability

The machine learning training and prediction codes underlying this work are freely available for general use under GNU General Public Licence v3.0 and are deposited at


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This work was supported as part of the Center for Understanding and Control of Acid Gas-Induced Evolution of Materials for Energy (UNCAGE-ME), an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the US Department of Energy, Office of Science, Basic Energy Sciences under award no. DE-SC0012577. C.C. gratefully acknowledges a fellowship from the Achievement Rewards for College Scientists (ARCS) Foundation. R.B. acknowledges insightful discussions with D.S. Sholl.

Author information




R.B. and R.R. initiated this research project. R.B. developed and analysed the ML models. C.C. and T.G.E. contributed to data collection. All co-authors contributed to the model analysis, discussions and writing of the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Rampi Ramprasad.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Extended data

Extended Data Fig. 1 Statistics on water stability in MOFs.

Distribution of MOFs into 4 categories of water stability based on the constituting metal node.

Source data

Extended Data Fig. 2 Performance comparison of ML algorithms for 2-class model.

Performance comparison of SVM, RF and GB methods for the 2-class model (’S’, stable and ’U’, unstable MOFs) using the RFE based reduced feature set. Left panel shows the overall class-weighted accuracies, while the right two panels show the per-class test scores, that is F1, area under the ROC curve (AUC), precision (P) and recall (R), for the RF and SVM models. The RF model can be seen to outperform in all accounts and was selected as the 2-class model in this work.

Source data

Extended Data Fig. 3 Performance comparison of ML algorithms for 3-class model.

Performance comparison of SVM, RF and GB methods for the 3-class model (’S’, stable, ’HK’, high kinetic stable, and ’U’, unstable MOFs) using the RFE based reduced feature set. Left panel shows the overall class-weighted accuracies, while the right two panels respectively show the per-class F1 and recall scores, for the RF and SVM models. The RF model can be seen to have poor performance for the underrepresented stable (S) class, although it was trained to maximize the class-weighted accuracy. Similar results were found for GB algorithm as well. Thus, SVM with best performance for all classes was selected as the 3-class model in this work.

Source data

Extended Data Fig. 4 Important MOF water stability descriptors.

Relative feature importance as extracted from the random forest (RF) 2-class model. The feature importance in case of RF is based on the concept of mean decrease in impurity (MDI), as explained here (G. Louppe, Understanding Random Forests: From Theory to Practice, PhD Thesis, U. of Liege, 2014). The features with relatively high importance were selected to mine important chemical trends of water stability in MOFs. The first letter of the descriptor, that is, M or L, denotes the metal or the ligand associated features, respectively (see main article for details). Features with high importance were used to derive important stability trends as discussed in the main article.

Source data

Extended Data Fig. 5 Correlation between MOF water stability and its descriptors.

A subset of post-RFE features were analyzed to see if linear correlations between MOF water stability for the case with two classes (S+HK and U+LK) and the features values could be used to derive some chemical trends. This figure suggests that the presence of certain chemical motifs, especially those containing N or ketone groups, and 5-member rings, tend to enhance the water stability in MOFs. Each marker in the figure represents a MOF from the Burtch data set. See Supplementary Information for details on the different descriptors.

Source data

Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Tables 1 and 2 discussing the reduced feature set and model predictions on 88 new MOFS, respectively.

Reporting Summary

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Source Data Extended Data Fig. 1

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Source Data Extended Data Fig. 3

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Source Data Extended Data Fig. 5

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Batra, R., Chen, C., Evans, T.G. et al. Prediction of water stability of metal–organic frameworks using machine learning. Nat Mach Intell 2, 704–710 (2020).

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