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Electron transport through metal-organic frameworks by a hopping mechanism between discrete redox active sites is coupled to diffusion-migration of charge-balancing counter cations. Experimentally determined apparent diffusion coefficients, Deapp, that characterize this form of charge transport thus contain contributions from both processes. While this is well established for MOFs, microscopic descriptions of this process are largely lacking. Herein, we systematically lay out different scenarios for cation-coupled electron transfer processes that are at the heart of charge diffusion through MOFs. Through systematic variations of solvents and electrolyte cations, it is shown that the Deapp for charge migration through a PIZOF-type MOF, Zr(dcphOH-NDI) that is composed of redox-active naphthalenediimide (NDI) linkers, spans over 2 orders of magnitude. More importantly, however, the microscopic mechanisms for cation-coupled electron propagation are contingent on differing factors depending on the size of the cation and its propensity to engage in ion pairs with reduced linkers, either non-specifically or in defined structural arrangements. Based on computations and in agreement with experimental results, we show that ion pairing generally has an adverse effect on cation transport, thereby slowing down charge transport. In Zr(dcphOH-NDI), however, specific cation-linker interactions can open pathways for concerted cation-coupled electron transfer processes that can outcompete limitations from reduced cation flux.


Ashleigh T Castner, Hao Su, Erik Svensson Grape, A Ken Inge, Ben A Johnson, Mårten S G Ahlquist, Sascha Ott. Microscopic Insights into Cation-Coupled Electron Hopping Transport in a Metal-Organic Framework. Journal of the American Chemical Society. 2022 Apr 06;144(13):5910-5920

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PMID: 35325542

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