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High-Throughput Electron Diffraction Reveals a Hidden Novel Metal-Organic Framework for Electrocatalysis

revised on 25.02.2021, 10:52 and posted on 25.02.2021, 12:30 by Meng Ge, Yanzhi Wang, Francesco Carraro, Weibin Liang, Morteza Roostaeinia, Samira Siahrostami, Davide M. Proserpio, Christian Doonan, paolo falcaro, Haoquan Zheng, Xiaodong Zou, Zhehao Huang

Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) are known for their versatile combination of inorganic building units and organic linkers, which offers immense opportunities in a wide range of applications. However, many MOFs are typically synthesized as multiphasic polycrystalline powders, which are challenging for studies by X-ray diffraction. Therefore, developing new structural characterization techniques is highly desired in order to accelerate discoveries of new materials. Here, we report a high-throughput approach for structural analysis of MOF nano- and sub-microcrystals by three-dimensional electron diffraction (3DED). A new zeolitic-imidazolate framework (ZIF), denoted ZIF-EC1, was first discovered in a trace amount during the study of a known ZIF-CO3-1 material by 3DED. The structures of both ZIFs were solved and refined using 3DED data. ZIF-EC1 has a dense 3D framework structure, which is built by linking mono- and bi-nuclear Zn clusters and 2-methylimidazolates (mIm-). With a composition of Zn3(mIm)5(OH), ZIF-EC1 exhibits high N and Zn densities. We show that the N-doped carbon material derived from ZIF-EC1 is a promising electrocatalysis for oxygen reduction reaction (ORR). The discovery of this new MOF and its conversion to an efficient electrocatalyst highlights the power of 3DED in developing new materials and their applications.


the Swedish Research Council (VR, 2016-04625, 2017-04321)

the CATSS project from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation (KAW, 2016.0072)

the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 21975148, and 21601118)

the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities

the Research Funds of Shaanxi Normal University


Email Address of Submitting Author


Stockholm University



ORCID For Submitting Author


Declaration of Conflict of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.