Metal-organic Frameworks in General Chemistry Laboratory: Towards the Development of Students’ Scientific Identities

19 September 2023, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) are porous materials composed of metal ions and organic ligands. These materials have garnered significant attention due to their wide-ranging applications such as the capture of hazardous molecules, catalysis, production of value-added compounds and detection of ions or molecules in water. Despite their immense potential in various research fields, MOFs are rarely introduced in lower-division undergraduate chemistry courses. The aim of this study was to generate student interest in research by developing a new MOF laboratory experience. Students were tasked with synthesizing, characterizing, and utilizing MOFs to capture a hazardous molecule, using an inquiry-based learning approach. Over three laboratory periods, undergraduate students received instructions for synthesizing four MOFs. They were given the freedom to choose which MOF to synthesize and use for capture of either methylene blue or iodine. This hands-on experience exposed students to techniques not typically explored in general chemistry, including the use of crystallographic information files to examine MOF structures, powder X-ray diffraction, Fourier transform infrared spectrometry, and nitrogen adsorption isotherms. At the end of the term, students presented their work during a formal poster session where they received valuable feedback from faculty and graduate students at Oregon State University. Additionally, students participated in a survey to provide feedback on the learning outcomes of this new experiment, in which they expressed their interest in further exploring MOFs in the future.


general chemistry laboratory
metal-organic frameworks
synthesis and characterization
scientist identity
undergraduate research


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