Shape-Memory Nanopores Induced in Coordination Frameworks by Crystal Downsizing

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Science  11 Jan 2013:
Vol. 339, Issue 6116, pp. 193-196
DOI: 10.1126/science.1231451

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Size Affects Shape

Porous molecular framework materials can adopt a different phase when guest molecules absorb and uniformly distort the framework. Usually the framework returns to its original shape when the guests desorb. Sakata et al. (p. 193) noted that because surface stress drives this process, it might be avoided in smaller crystals. Indeed, a flexible porous coordination polymer, [Cu2(dicarboxylate)2(amine)]n, could retain the structure induced by guest molecules such as methanol if crystallites were made sufficiently small (submicrometer scale) and did so to a greater degree as the crystallite dimensions decreased.


Flexible porous coordination polymers change their structure in response to molecular incorporation but recover their original configuration after the guest has been removed. We demonstrated that the crystal downsizing of twofold interpenetrated frameworks of [Cu2(dicarboxylate)2(amine)]n regulates the structural flexibility and induces a shape-memory effect in the coordination frameworks. In addition to the two structures that contribute to the sorption process (that is, a nonporous closed phase and a guest-included open phase), we isolated an unusual, metastable open dried phase when downsizing the crystals to the mesoscale, and the closed phase was recovered by thermal treatment. Crystal downsizing suppressed the structural mobility and stabilized the open dried phase. The successful isolation of two interconvertible empty phases, the closed phase and the open dried phase, provided switchable sorption properties with or without gate-opening behavior.

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