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Stabilizing Metastable Polymorphs of Metal–Organic Frameworks via Encapsulation of Graphene Oxide and Mechanistic Studies

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journal contribution
posted on 30.08.2018 by Hui Su, Yao Du, Jichuan Zhang, Panpan Peng, Shenghua Li, Pengwan Chen, Michael Gozin, Siping Pang
Polymorphic transition from a metastable phase to a stable phase often occurs in metal–organic frameworks (MOFs) under the action of external stimuli. However, these transitions sometimes result in deteriorating their special performances and can even lead to serious safety problems. Therefore, developing a simple and efficient strategy for enhancing the stabilities of metastable MOF polymorphs is very imperative and meaningful. Herein, we propose a simple graphene oxide (GO)-encapsulating strategy for improving the stabilities of metastable MOF polymorphs. To illustrate this strategy, we designed and synthesized two polymorphic MOFs [MOF­(ATA-a) and MOF­(ATA-b)] as examples, which are based on energetic 5-amino-1H-tetrazole as ligands. Single-crystal X-ray diffraction showed that these two polymorphs have a same chemical composition [Zn2(ATA)3(ATA)2/2]n, but different space groups, space systems, and different stacking modes of the neighboring ligands. As expected, the metastable polymorph [MOF­(ATA-a)] underwent a complete polymorphic transition at room temperature to form its stable polymorph [MOF­(ATA-b)]. Using the proposed strategy, we successfully encapsulated a small amount of GO in the metastable polymorph [GO⊂MOF­(ATA-a)]. The resultant composite exhibited better chemical stability, extremely higher thermal stability, and larger Brunauer–Emmett–Teller surface area compared to both its precursor and the physically mixed analogue. Remarkably, its onset decomposition temperature (Td) was as high as 377.4 °C, which is even higher than that of 1,3,5-triamino-2,4,6-trinitrobenzene (Td = 321 °C), making it a potential heat-resistant explosive. The mechanism of stabilization was investigated in detail using various analytical techniques. This work may not only provide new insights into the stabilization of functional MOF polymorphs but also open up a new field for the application of GO.