Molecular Engineering of Metal-Organic Frameworks as Efficient Electrochemical Catalysts for Water Oxidation

Adv Mater. 2023 Jun;35(22):e2300945. doi: 10.1002/adma.202300945. Epub 2023 Apr 14.


Metal-organic framework (MOF) solids with their variable functionalities are relevant for energy conversion technologies. However, the development of electroactive and stable MOFs for electrocatalysis still faces challenges. Here, a molecularly engineered MOF system featuring a 2D coordination network based on mercaptan-metal links (e.g., nickel, as for Ni(DMBD)-MOF) is designed. The crystal structure is solved from microcrystals by a continuous-rotation electron diffraction (cRED) technique. Computational results indicate a metallic electronic structure of Ni(DMBD)-MOF due to the Ni-S coordination, highlighting the effective design of the thiol ligand for enhancing electroconductivity. Additionally, both experimental and theoretical studies indicate that (DMBD)-MOF offers advantages in the electrocatalytic oxygen evolution reaction (OER) over non-thiol (e.g., 1,4-benzene dicarboxylic acid) analog (BDC)-MOF, because it poses fewer energy barriers during the rate-limiting *O intermediate formation step. Iron-substituted NiFe(DMBD)-MOF achieves a current density of 100 mA cm-2 at a small overpotential of 280 mV, indicating a new MOF platform for efficient OER catalysis.

Keywords: metal-organic frameworks; nickel-mercaptan links; oxygen evolution; thiol functionalization.