Statistical Thermodynamic Model of Gas Adsorption in a Metal-Organic Framework Harboring a Rotaxane Molecular Shuttle

Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) are modular and adjustable nano-porous materials with applications in gas storage, separations, and sensing. Flexible/dynamic components that respond to adsorbed gas can give MOFs unique or enhanced adsorption properties. Here, we explore the adsorption properties that could be imparted to a MOF by a rotaxane molecular shuttle (RMS) in its pores. In an RMS-MOF, a macrocyclic wheel is mechanically interlocked with a strut. The wheel shuttles between stations on the strut that are also gas adsorption sites. We pose and analyze a simple statistical thermodynamic model of gas adsorption in an RMS-MOF that accounts for (i) wheel/gas competition for sites on the strut and (ii) the entropy endowed by the shuttling wheel. We determine how the amount of gas adsorbed, position of the wheel, and energy change upon adsorption depend on temperature, pressure, and the interactions of the gas/wheel with the stations. Our model reveals that, compared to an ordinary Langmuir material, the chemistry of the RMS-MOF can be tuned to render adsorption more or less temperature-sensitive and release more or less heat upon adsorption. The model also uncovers a non-monotonic relationship between temperature and the position of the wheel if gas out-competes the wheel for its preferable station.