A Chemical Route to Activation of Open Metal Sites in the Copper-Based Metal–Organic Framework Materials HKUST‑1 and Cu-MOF‑2

Open coordination sites (OCSs) in metal–organic frameworks (MOFs) often function as key factors in the potential applications of MOFs, such as gas separation, gas sorption, and catalysis. For these applications, the activation process to remove the solvent molecules coordinated at the OCSs is an essential step that must be performed prior to use of the MOFs. To date, the thermal method performed by applying heat and vacuum has been the only method for such activation. In this report, we demonstrate that methylene chloride (MC) itself can perform the activation role: this process can serve as an alternative “chemical route” for the activation that does not require applying heat. To the best of our knowledge, no previous study has demonstrated this function of MC, although MC has been popularly used in the pretreatment step prior to the thermal activation process. On the basis of a Raman study, we propose a plausible mechanism for the chemical activation, in which the function of MC is possibly due to its coordination with the Cu2+ center and subsequent spontaneous decoordination. Using HKUST-1 film, we further demonstrate that this chemical activation route is highly suitable for activating large-area MOF films.