Inelastic Neutron Scattering and Theoretical Studies of H2 Sorption in a Dy(III)-Based Phosphine Coordination Material

A combined inelastic neutron scattering (INS) and theoretical study of H2 sorption was performed in PCM-16, a phosphine coordination material (PCM) with the empirical formula [(CH3)2NH2]­[Dy2(tctpo)2(O2CH)] (tctpo = tris­(p-carboxylato)­triphenylphosphine oxide). INS measurements at different loadings of H2 revealed a peak occurring at low rotational tunnelling energies (ca. 5–8 meV), which corresponds to a high barrier to rotation and, therefore, a strong interaction with the host. Molecular simulations of H2 sorption in PCM-16 revealed that the H2 molecules sorbed at two main sites in the material: (1) the (CH3)2NH2+ counterions and (2) within the small pores of the framework. Two-dimensional quantum rotation calculations revealed that the peak occurring from approximately 5–8 meV in the INS spectra for PCM-16 is associated with sorption onto the (CH3)2NH2+ ions. These counterions provide for the strongest H2 sorption sites in the material, which corresponds to an isosteric heat of adsorption (Qst) value of close to 8 kJ mol–1. The calculated rotational barrier for the (CH3)2NH2+–H2 interaction in PCM-16 (45.60 meV) is higher than those for a number of extant metal–organic frameworks (MOFs), especially those that contain open-metal sites. This study provides insights into the H2 sorption mechanism in a PCM for the first time and shows how the inclusion of counterions in porous materials is a promising method to increase the H2 sorption energetics in such materials.