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The pillared layer framework DUT-8(Zn) (Zn2(2,6-ndc)2(dabco),
2,6-ndc = 2,6-naphthalenedicarboxylate, dabco =
1,4-diazabicyclo-[2.2.2]-octane, DUT = Dresden University of Technology) is a prototypical switchable MOF,
showing characteristic adsorption and desorption induced open phase (op) to closed phase (cp) transformation associated with huge
changes in cell volume. We demonstrate switchability strongly depends on a
framework-specific critical particle size (dcrit).
The solvent removal process (pore desolvation stress contracting the framework)
significantly controls the cp/op ratio after desolvation and,
subsequently, the adsorption induced switchability characteristics of the
system. After desolvation, the dense cp
phase of DUT-8(Zn) shows no adsorption-induced reopening and therefore is
non-porous for N2 at 77 K and CO2 at 195 K. However,
polar molecules with a higher adsorption enthalpy, such as the polar molecules
such as chloromethane at 249 K and dichloromethane (DCM) at 298 K can reopen
the macro-sized crystals upon adsorption. For macro-sized particles, the outer
surface energy is negligible and only the type of metal (Zn, Co, Ni) controls
the DCM-induced gate opening pressure. The framework stiffness increases from
Zn to Ni as confirmed by DFT calculations, X-ray crystal structural analyses,
and low frequency Raman spectroscopy. The partial disintegration of the Zn
based node hinges produces an overall increased stabilization of cp vs. op phase shifts the critical particle size at which switchability
starts to become suppressed to even lower values (dcrit < 200 nm) as compared to the Ni-based system (dcrit ≈ 500 nm). Hence, the
three factors affecting switchability (energetics of the empty host, (Eop-Ecp) (I),
particle size (II), and desolvation stress (III)) appear to be of the same
order of magnitude and should be considered collectively, not individually.