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

28 September 2020, Version 2
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) are modular and tunable 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 the unit cell of an RMS-MOF, a macrocyclic wheel is mechanically interlocked with a strut of the MOF scaffold. The wheel shuttles between stations on the strut that are also gas adsorption sites. At a level of abstraction similar to the seminal Langmuir adsorption model, we pose and analyze a simple statistical mechanical model of gas adsorption in an RMS-MOF that accounts for (i) wheel/gas competition for sites on the strut and (ii) gas-induced changes in the configurational entropy of the shuttling wheel. We determine how the amount of gas adsorbed, position of the wheel, and differential energy of adsorption depend on temperature, pressure, and the interactions of the gas/wheel with the stations. Our model reveals that, compared to a rigid, Langmuir material, the chemistry of the RMS-MOF can be tuned to render gas adsorption more or less temperature-sensitive and to release more or less heat upon adsorption. The model also uncovers a non-monotonic relationship between the temperature and the position of the wheel if gas out-competes the wheel for its preferable station.


metal-organic frameworks (MOFs)
statistical mechanics
molecular shuttle
statistical physics
statistical thermodynamics
gas adsorption

Supplementary materials

RMS MOF model SI


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