Absorbing stress via molecular crumple zones: Strain engineering flexibility into the rigid UiO-66 material

13 October 2022, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


Nanostructured materials such as metal--organic frameworks and perovskites can be easily tuned towards applications ranging from sensors to photovoltaic devices. However, the key to unlock their design potential, namely causal relations between a material's atomic structure and its macroscopic function, is currently still missing. Therefore, we herein introduce strain engineering as a general approach to rationalize and design how atomic-level structural modifications induce dynamically interacting strain fields that dictate these material's macroscopic mechanical behavior. We demonstrate the potential of strain engineering by consciously designing shear instabilities in UiO-66, leading to intriguing, counterintuitive mechanical behavior. The strain-engineered structures exhibit time- and space-dependent crumple zones that instill flexibility in the otherwise rigid material and that locally focus the strain, partially preserving the porosity of the material under compression. This example demonstrates how strain engineering can be adopted to design, from the atomic level onwards, state-of-the-art materials for challenging applications.


strain fields
material design
mechanical behavior
metal-organic frameworks
mechanical stability
defect engineering
strain engineering
shock absorption
crumple zones

Supplementary materials

Supporting Information
Supporting Information as referred to in the main text.


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