Size-Dependent Spin Crossover and Bond Flexibility in Metal-Organic Framework Nanoparticles

17 May 2024, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


Size reduction offers a synthetic route to tunable phase change behavior. Preparing materials as nanoparticles causes drastic modulations to critical temperatures (Tc), hysteresis widths, and the “sharpness” of first-order versus second-order phase transitions. A microscopic picture of the chemistry underlying this size dependence in phenomena ranging from melting to superconductivity remains debated. As a case study with broad implica-tions, we report that size-dependent spin crossover (SCO) in nanocrystals of the metal-organic framework (MOF) Fe(1,2,3-triazolate)2 arises from metal-linker bonds becoming more labile in smaller particles. In comparison to the bulk material, differential scanning calorimetry indicates a ~30-40% reduction in Tc and H in the smallest particles. Variable-temperature vibrational spectroscopy reveals a diminished long-range structural cooperativi-ty, while X-ray diffraction evidences an over three-fold increase in the thermal expansion coefficients. This “phonon softening” provides a molecular mechanism for designing size-dependent behavior in framework ma-terials and for understanding phase changes in general.


metal-organic framework
spin crossover


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