Post-synthetic ligand exchange in zirconium-based metal-organic frameworks: beware of the defects!

<p>Post-synthetic ligand exchange in the prototypical zirconium-based metal-organic framework UiO-66 was investigated by in situ solution <sup>1</sup>H nuclear magnetic resonance. Samples of UiO-66 having different degrees of defectivity were exchanged using solutions of several terephthalic acid analogues in a range of conditions. Linker exchange only occurred in defect-free UiO-66, whereas monocarboxylates grafted at defective sites were found to be preferentially exchanged with respect to terephthalic acid over the whole range of conditions investigated. A 1:1 exchange ratio between the terephthalic acid analogue and modulator was observed, providing evidence that the defects had missing-cluster nature. Ex situ characterisation of the MOF powders after exchange corroborated these findings and evidenced that the physical-chemical properties of the MOF depend on whether the functionalisation occurs at defective sites or on the framework. N<sub>2</sub> sorption analysis showed that, upon exchange, defective samples underwent significant decrease of surface area and disappearance of large pores, associated with the presence of missing-cluster defects in the starting material. CO<sub>2 </sub>sorption studies displayed the different impact of pure defect functionalisation and pure framework functionalisation on isosteric heat of adsorption and CO<sub>2</sub>/N<sub>2</sub> selectivity.</p>