Exciton Coupling and Conformational Changes Impacting the Excited State Properties of Metal Organic Frameworks

Molecules. 2020 Sep 15;25(18):4230. doi: 10.3390/molecules25184230.


In recent years, the photophysical properties of crystalline metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) have become increasingly relevant for their potential application in light-emitting devices, photovoltaics, nonlinear optics and sensing. The availability of high-quality experimental data for such systems makes them ideally suited for a validation of quantum mechanical simulations, aiming at an in-depth atomistic understanding of photophysical phenomena. Here we present a computational DFT study of the absorption and emission characteristics of a Zn-based surface-anchored metal-organic framework (Zn-SURMOF-2) containing anthracenedibenzoic acid (ADB) as linker. Combining band-structure and cluster-based simulations on ADB chromophores in various conformations and aggregation states, we are able to provide a detailed explanation of the experimentally observed photophysical properties of Zn-ADB SURMOF-2: The unexpected (weak) red-shift of the absorption maxima upon incorporating ADB chromophores into SURMOF-2 can be explained by a combination of excitonic coupling effects with conformational changes of the chromophores already in their ground state. As far as the unusually large red-shift of the emission of Zn-ADB SURMOF-2 is concerned, based on our simulations, we attribute it to a modification of the exciton coupling compared to conventional H-aggregates, which results from a relative slip of the centers of neighboring chromophores upon incorporation in Zn-ADB SURMOF-2.

Keywords: SURMOF; absorption; aggregation; emission; metal organic frameworks; time-dependent density functional theory.

MeSH terms

  • Anthracenes / chemistry
  • Density Functional Theory
  • Dimerization
  • Metal-Organic Frameworks / chemistry*
  • Molecular Conformation
  • Solvents / chemistry
  • Zinc / chemistry


  • Anthracenes
  • Metal-Organic Frameworks
  • Solvents
  • anthracene
  • Zinc