Ionic Liquid Facilitated Melting of the Metal-Organic Framework ZIF-8


Hybrid glasses from melt-quenched metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) have been emerging as a new class of materials, which combine the functional properties of crystalline MOFs with the processability of glasses. However, only a handful of the vast variety of crystalline MOFs have been identified as being meltable. Porosity and metal-linker interaction strength have both been identified as crucial parameters in the trade-off between thermal decomposition of the organic linker and, more desirably, melting. For example, the inability of the prototypical zeolitic imidazolate framework (ZIF) ZIF-8 to melt, is ascribed to the instability of the organic linker upon dissociation from the metal center. Here, we demonstrate that the incorporation of an ionic liquid (IL) into the porous interior of ZIF-8 provides a means to reduce its melting temperature to below its thermal decomposition temperature (Tm < Td). Experimental evidence shows that the Tm of ZIF-8 obtained by IL infiltration is around 381 °C, and that the glass forming ability (Tg/Tm) of such melts is above 0.9, i.e. higher than those previously reported for other meltable MOFs. Our structural studies show that the prevention of decomposition, and successful melting, is due to the IL interactions stabilizing the rapidly dissociating ZIF-8 linkers upon heating. This understanding may act as a general guide for extending the range of meltable MOF materials and, hence, the chemical and structural variety of MOF-derived glasses.

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