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Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Materials Science and Engineering (PhD)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Materials Science and Engineering

First Advisor

Yun Hang Hu


Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) obtained much attention because of their unusual structures and properties as well as their potential applications. This dissertation research was focused on (1) the effects of synthesis conditions on the structures of MOFs, (2) the thermal stability of MOFs, (3) pressure-induced amorphization, and (4) the effect of high-valent ions on the structure of a MOF.

This research demonstrated that the crystal structure of MOF-5 could be controlled by drying solvents. If the vacuum solvent is dimethylformamide (DMF), the crystal structure of MOF-5 is tetragonal. In contrast, if the DMF is displaced by CH2Cl2 before the vacuum, the obtained MOF-5 occupies a cubic structure. Furthermore, it was found that the tetragonal MOF-5 exhibited a mediate surface area (300-1000 m2/g). The surface area of tetragonal MOF-5 is also dependent on Zn(NO3)2/H2BDC (H2BDC: terephthalic acid) molar ratios used for its synthesis. The optimum ratio is 1.38, at which synthesized tetragonal MOF-5 exhibits the highest crystallinity and surface area (1297 m2/g).

The thermal stability and decomposition of MOF-5 were systematically investigated. The thermal decomposition of cubic and tetragonal MOF-5s resulted in the same products: CO2, benzene, amorphous carbon, and crystal ZnO. The thermal decomposition is due to breaking carboxylic bridges between benzene rings and Zn4O clusters.

Identifying structural relationships between crystalline and noncrystalline states is of fundamental interest in materials research. Currently, amorphization of solid materials at ambient temperature requires an ultra-high pressure (several GPa). However, this research demonstrated that MOF-5 and IRMOF-8 can be irreversibly amorphized at ambient temperature by employing a low compressing pressure of 3.5 MPa, which is 100 times lower than that required for amorphization of other solids. Furthermore, the pressure-induced amorphization (PIA) of MOFs is strongly dependent on the changeability of bond angles. If the geometric structure of a MOF can allow bond angles to be changed without breaking bonds, it can easily be amorphized by compression. This can explain why MOF-5 and IRMOF-8 can easily be amorphized via compression than Cu-BTC.

It is generally recognized that zeolitic imidazolate frameworks (ZIFs) occupy much higher stability than other types of MOFs. The representative of ZIFs is Zn(2-methylimidazole)2 (ZIF-8) exhibiting high-decomposition temperature and high chemical resistance to various solvents. However, so far, it is still unknown whether the high stability of ZIF-8 can be challenged by ions, which is important for its modification by doping ions. In this research, we performed aqueous salt solution treatment on ZIF-8, and the results showed that anions (Cl¯ and NO3¯) in a solution exhibited no effect on the crystal structure of ZIF-8. However, the effect of cations (in a solution) on structure of ZIF-8 strongly depends on the cation valences. The univalent metal cations showed no effect on the structure of ZIF-8, whereas the bivalent or higher-valent metal cations caused the collapse of ZIF-8 crystal structure. Therefore, structure stability of ZIF-8 is considered when it is subjected to the application, in which high-valent metal cations are involved.