Multichromic Metal-Organic Framework for Multimode Photonic Sensing
Luminescent metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) offer a multifunctional platform for engineering non-invasive sensors and tuneable optoelectronics. However, multichromic materials that are photophysically resilient and show high sensitivity towards different physical and chemical stimuli are scarce. We report a facile host-guest nanoconfinement strategy to construct a hybrid material with multichromic sensing capabilities. We design and fabricate a new Guest@MOF material: comprising a zeolitic MOF (ZIF-71), acting as a nanoporous host for encapsulating rhodamine B (RhB) guest molecules, resulting in the RhB@ZIF‑71 system with mechanochromic, thermochromic, and solvatochromic sensing response. The multichromic properties stem from the nanoconfinement effect that ZIF-71 imposes on RhB monomers, yielding the H-type or J-type aggregates with tuneable photophysical and photochemical properties. For mechanochromism, the external pressure causes an emission red shift in a linear fashion, switching the RhB guests from H-type to J-type aggregates via a shear mechanism. For thermochromism, we demonstrate a linear scaling as a function of temperature due to the spatial restriction experienced by J-type aggregates incarcerated in ZIF-71 pores. Harnessing the solvatochromism of RhB@ZIF‑71, we identified three diverse groups of volatile organic compounds. The multimodal response could pave the way to smart applications like photonic pressure sensors, non-invasive thermometers, and ultrasensitive chemosensors.