J. Hajek

Engineering a highly defective stable UiO-66 with tunable Lewis-Brønsted acidity - The role of the hemilabile linker

X. Feng, J. Hajek, H. S. Jena, G. Wang, S. K. P. Veerapandian, R. Morent, N. De Geyter, K. Leyssens, A.E.J. Hoffman, V. Meynen, C. Marquez, D. De Vos, V. Van Speybroeck, K. Leus, P. Van der Voort
JACS (Journal of the American Chemical Society)
142 (6), 3174-3183
2020
A1

Abstract 

The stability of metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) typically decreases with an increasing number of defects, limiting the number of defects that can be created and limiting catalytic and other applications. Herein, we use a hemilabile (Hl) linker to create up to maximum 6 defects per cluster in UiO-66. We have synthesized hemilabile UiO-66 (Hl-UiO-66) using benzene dicarboxylate (BDC) as linker and 4-sulfonatobenzoate (PSBA) as the hemilabile linker. The PSBA acts not only as a modulator to create defects, but also as a co-ligand that enhances the stability of the resulting defective framework. Furthermore, upon a post-synthetic treatment in H2SO4, the average number of defects increases to the optimum of six missing BDC linkers per cluster (3 per formula unit), leaving the Zr-nodes on average 6-fold coordinated. Remarkably, the thermal stability of the materials further increases upon this treatment. Periodic density functional theory calculations confirm that the hemilabile ligands strengthen this highly defective structure by several stabilizing interactions. Finally, the catalytic activity of the obtained materials is evaluated in the acid-catalyzed isomerization of α-pinene oxide. This reaction is particularly sensitive to the Brønsted or Lewis acid sites in the catalyst. In comparison to the pristine UiO-66, which mainly possesses Brønsted acid sites, the Hl-UiO-66 and the post-synthetically treated Hl-UiO-66 structures exhibited a higher Lewis acidity and an enhanced activity and selectivity. This is further explored by CD3CN spectroscopic sorption experiments. We have shown that by tuning the number of defects in UiO-66 using PSBA as the hemilabile linker, one can achieve highly defective and stable MOFs and easily control the Brønsted to Lewis acid ratio in the materials, and thus their catalytic activity and selectivity.

A Supramolecular View on the Cooperative Role of Brønsted andLewis Acid Sites in Zeolites for Methanol Conversion

S. Bailleul, I. Yarulina, A.E.J. Hoffman, A. Dokania, E. Abou-Hamad, A. Dutta Chowdhury, G. Pieters, J. Hajek, K. De Wispelaere, M. Waroquier, J. Gascon, V. Van Speybroeck
JACS (Journal of the American Chemical Society)
141 (37), 14823-14842
2019
A1

Abstract 

A systematic molecular level and spectroscopic investigation is presented to show the cooperative role of Brønsted acid and Lewis acid sites in zeolites for the conversion of methanol. Extra-framework alkaline-earth metal containing species and aluminum species decrease the number of Brønsted acid sites, as protonated metal clusters are formed. A combined experimental and theoretical effort shows that postsynthetically modified ZSM-5 zeolites, by incorporation of extra-framework alkaline-earth metals or by demetalation with dealuminating agents, contain both mononuclear [MOH]+ and double protonated binuclear metal clusters [M(μ-OH)2M]2+ (M = Mg, Ca, Sr, Ba, and HOAl). The metal in the extra-framework clusters has a Lewis acid character, which is confirmed experimentally and theoretically by IR spectra of adsorbed pyridine. The strength of the Lewis acid sites (Mg > Ca > Sr > Ba) was characterized by a blue shift of characteristic IR peaks, thus offering a tool to sample Lewis acidity experimentally. The incorporation of extra-framework Lewis acid sites has a substantial influence on the reactivity of propene and benzene methylations. Alkaline-earth Lewis acid sites yield increased benzene methylation barriers and destabilization of typical aromatic intermediates, whereas propene methylation routes are less affected. The effect on the catalytic function is especially induced by the double protonated binuclear species. Overall, the extra-framework metal clusters have a dual effect on the catalytic function. By reducing the number of Brønsted acid sites and suppressing typical catalytic reactions in which aromatics are involved, an optimal propene selectivity and increased lifetime for methanol conversion over zeolites is obtained. The combined experimental and theoretical approach gives a unique insight into the nature of the supramolecular zeolite catalyst for methanol conversion which can be meticulously tuned by subtle interplay of Brønsted and Lewis acid sites.

Open Access version available at UGent repository
Gold Open Access

Dynamic interplay between defective UiO-66 and protic solvents in activated processes

C. Caratelli, J. Hajek, E.J. Meijer, M. Waroquier, V. Van Speybroeck
Chemistry - A European Journal
25 (67), 15315-15325
2019
A1

Abstract 

UiO‐66, composed by Zr‐oxide inorganic bricks [Zr6(μ3‐O)4(μ3‐OH)4] and organic terephthalate linkers, is one of the most studied metal–organic frameworks (MOFs) due to its exceptional thermal, chemical, and mechanical stability. Thanks to its high connectivity, the material can withstand structural deformations during activation processes such as linker exchange, dehydration, and defect formation. These processes do alter the zirconium coordination number in a dynamic way, creating open metal sites for catalysis and thus are able to tune the catalytic properties. In this work, it is shown, by means of first‐principle molecular‐dynamics simulations at operating conditions, how protic solvents may facilitate such changes in the metal coordination. Solvent can induce structural rearrangements in the material that can lead to undercoordinated but also overcoordinated metal sites. This is demonstrated by simulating activation processes along well‐chosen collective variables. Such enhanced MD simulations are able to track the intrinsic dynamics of the framework at realistic conditions.

Active Role of Methanol in Post-Synthetic Linker Exchange in the Metal-Organic Framework UiO-66

J. Marreiros, C. Caratelli, J. Hajek, A. Krajnc, G. Fleury, B. Bueken, D. De Vos, G. Mali, M. Roeffaers, V. Van Speybroeck, R. Ameloot
Chemistry of Materials
31 (4), 1359-1369
2019
A1

Abstract 

UiO-66 is known as one of the most robust metal-organic framework materials. Nevertheless, UiO-66 has also been shown to undergo post-synthetic exchange of structural linkers with surprising ease in some sol-vents. To date the exchange mechanism has not yet been fully elucidated. Here, we show how time-resolved monitoring grants insight into the selected case of exchanging 2-aminoterephthalic acid into UiO-66 in methanol. Analysis of both the solid and liquid phase, complemented by computational insights, revealed the active role of methanol in the creation and stabilization of metastable states in which dangling linkers are similar to monocarboxylate defects that can be introduced during UiO-66 synthesis, such dangling link-ers undergo fast exchange. The presence of missing linker or missing cluster defects at the start of the ex-change process was shown to have no considerable impact on the equilibrium composition. After the ex-change process, the incoming 2-aminoterephthalate and remaining terephthalate linkers were distributed homogeneously in the framework for the typical small crystal size of UiO-66 (≈500nm).

Open Access version available at UGent repository
Green Open Access

On the intrinsic dynamic nature of the rigid UiO-66 metal-organic framework

J. Hajek, C. Caratelli, R. Demuynck, K. De Wispelaere, L. Vanduyfhuys, M. Waroquier, V. Van Speybroeck
Chemical Science
9 (10), 2723-2732
2018
A1

Abstract 

UiO-66 is a showcase example of an extremely stable metal–organic framework, which maintains its structural integrity during activation processes such as linker exchange and dehydration. The framework can even accommodate a substantial number of defects without compromising its stability. These observations point to an intrinsic dynamic flexibility of the framework, related to changes in the coordination number of the zirconium atoms. Herein we follow the dynamics of the framework in situ, by means of enhanced sampling molecular dynamics simulations such as umbrella sampling, during an activation process, where the coordination number of the bridging hydroxyl groups capped in the inorganic Zr6(μ3-O)4(μ3-OH)4 brick is reduced from three to one. Such a reduction in the coordination number occurs during the dehydration process and in other processes where defects are formed. We observe a remarkable fast response of the system upon structural changes of the hydroxyl group. Internal deformation modes are detected, which point to linker decoordination and recoordination. Detached linkers may be stabilized by hydrogen bonds with hydroxyl groups of the inorganic brick, which gives evidence for an intrinsic dynamic acidity even in the absence of protic guest molecules. Our observations yield a major step forward in the understanding on the molecular level of activation processes realized experimentally but that is hard to track on a purely experimental basis.

Open Access version available at UGent repository
Green Open Access

Influence of a confined methanol solvent on the reactivity of active sites in UiO-66

C. Caratelli, J. Hajek, S.M.J. Rogge, S. Vandenbrande, E.J. Meijer, M. Waroquier, V. Van Speybroeck
ChemPhysChem
19 (4), 420-429
2018
A1

Abstract 

UiO-66, composed of Zr-oxide bricks and terephthalate linkers, is currently one of the most studied metal-organic frameworks due to its exceptional stability. Defects can be introduced in the structure, creating undercoordinated Zr atoms which are Lewis acid sites. Here, additional Brønsted sites can be generated by coordinated protic species from the solvent. In this contribution, a multilevel modeling approach was applied to unravel the effect of a confined methanol solvent on the active sites in UiO-66. First, active sites were explored with static periodic density functional theory calculations to investigate adsorption of water and methanol. Solvent was then introduced in the pores with grand canonical Monte Carlo simulations, followed by a series of molecular dynamics simulations at operating conditions. A hydrogen-bonded network of methanol molecules is formed, allowing the protons to shuttle between solvent methanol, adsorbed water, and the inorganic brick. Upon deprotonation of an active site, the methanol solvent aids the transfer of protons and stabilizes charged configurations via hydrogen bonding, which could be crucial in stabilizing reactive intermediates. The multilevel modeling approach adopted here sheds light on the important role of a confined solvent on the active sites in the UiO-66 material, introducing dynamic acidity in the system at finite temperatures by which protons may be easily shuttled from various positions at the active sites.

Open Access version available at UGent repository
Gold Open Access

Nature of active sites on UiO-66 and beneficial influence of water in the catalysis of Fischer esterification

C. Caratelli, J. Hajek, F. G. Cirujano, M. Waroquier, F. X. Llabres i Xamena, V. Van Speybroeck
Journal of Catalysis
352, 401-414
2017
A1

Abstract 

Zirconium terephthalate UiO-66 type metal organic frameworks (MOFs) are known to be highly active, stable and reusable catalysts for the esterification of carboxylic acids with alcohols. Moreover, when defects are present in the structure of these MOFs, coordinatively unsaturated Zr ions with Lewis acid properties are created, which increase the catalytic activity of the resulting defective solids. In the present work, molecular modeling techniques combined with new experimental data on various defective hydrated and dehydrated materials allow to unravel the nature and role of defective active sites in the Fischer esterification and the role of coordinated water molecules to provide additional Brønsted sites. Periodic models of UiO-66 and UiO-66-NH2 catalysts have been used to unravel the reaction mechanism on hydrated and dehydrated materials. Various adsorption modes of water and methanol are investigated. The proposed mechanisms are in line with experimental observations that amino groups yield a reduction in the reaction barriers, although they have a passive role in modulating the electronic structure of the material. Water has a beneficial role on the reaction cycle by providing extra Brønsted sites and by providing stabilization for various intermediates through hydrogen bonds.

Open Access version available at UGent repository
Gold Open Access

Metal-organic and covalent organic frameworks as single-site catalysts

S.M.J. Rogge, A. Bavykina, J. Hajek, H. Garcia, A.I. Olivos-Suarez, A. Sepúlveda-Escribano, A. Vimont, G. Clet, P. Bazin, F. Kapteijn, M. Daturi, E.V. Ramos-Fernandez, F.X. Llabres i Xamena, V. Van Speybroeck, J. Gascon
Chemical Society Reviews
46 (11), 3134-3184
2017
A1

Abstract 

Heterogeneous single-site catalysts consist of isolated, well-defined, active sites that are spatially separated in a given solid and, ideally, structurally identical. In this review, the potential of metal–organic frameworks (MOFs) and covalent organic frameworks (COFs) as platforms for the development of heterogeneous single-site catalysts is reviewed thoroughly. In the first part of this article, synthetic strategies and progress in the implementation of such sites in these two classes of materials are discussed. Because these solids are excellent playgrounds to allow a better understanding of catalytic functions, we highlight the most important recent advances in the modelling and spectroscopic characterization of single-site catalysts based on these materials. Finally, we discuss the potential of MOFs as materials in which several single-site catalytic functions can be combined within one framework along with their potential as powerful enzyme-mimicking materials. The review is wrapped up with our personal vision on future research directions.

Open Access version available at UGent repository
Gold Open Access

The remarkable amphoteric nature of defective UiO-66 in catalytic reactions

J. Hajek, B. Bueken, M. Waroquier, D. De Vos, V. Van Speybroeck
ChemCatChem
9 (12), 2203-2210
2017
A1

Abstract 

One of the major requirements in solid acids and bases catalyzed reactions is that the reactants, intermediates or activated complexes cooperate with several functions of catalyst support. In this work the remarkable bifunctional behavior of the defective UiO-66(Zr) metal organic framework is shown for acid-base pair catalysis. The active site relies on the presence of undercoordinated zirconium sites, which may be tuned by removing framework linkers and by removal of water from the inorganic bricks using a dehydration treatment. To elucidate the amphoteric nature of defective UiO-66, the Oppenauer oxidation of primary alcohols has been theoretically investigated using density functional theory (DFT) and the periodic approach. The presence of acid and basic centers within molecular distances has been shown crucial for determining the catalytic activity of the material. Hydrated and dehydrated bricks have a distinct influence on modulation of the acidity and basicity of the active sites. In any case both functions need to cooperate in a concerted way to enable the chemical transformation.

Open Access version available at UGent repository
Gold Open Access

Towards metal–organic framework based field effect chemical sensors: UiO-66-NH2 for nerve agent detection

L. Stassen, B. Bueken, H. Reinsch, J.F.M. Oudenhoven, D. Wouters, J. Hajek, V. Van Speybroeck, N. Stock, P.M. Vereecken, R. Van Schajik, D. De Vos, R. Ameloot
Chemical Science
7, 5827-5832
2016
A1

Abstract 

We present a highly sensitive gas detection approach for the infamous ‘nerve agent’ group of alkyl phosphonate compounds. Signal transduction is achieved by monitoring the work function shift of metal–organic framework UiO-66-NH2 coated electrodes upon exposure to ppb-level concentrations of a target simulant. Using the Kelvin probe technique, we demonstrate the potential of electrically insulating MOFs for integration in field effect devices such as ChemFETs: a three orders of magnitude improvement over previous work function-based detection of nerve agent simulants. Moreover, the signal is fully reversible both in dry and humid conditions, down to low ppb concentrations. Comprehensive investigation of the interactions that lead towards this high sensitivity points towards a series of confined interactions between the analyte and the pore interior of UiO-66-NH2.

Open Access version available at UGent repository

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