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Enabling a bioinspired N,N,N-copper coordination motif through spatial control in UiO-67: synthesis and reactivity

Dalton Transaction – Isabel Gerz, Erlend S. Aunan, Valeria Finelli, Mouhammad Abu Rasheed, Gabriele Deplano, Rafael Cortez S. P., Inga L. Schmidtke, David S. Wragg, Matteo Signorile, Knut T. Hylland, Elisa Borfecchia, Karl Petter Lillerud, Silvia Bordiga, Unni Olsbye and Mohamed Amedjkouh.

Metal–organic frameworks (MOFs) featuring zirconium-based clusters are widely used for the development of functionalized materials due to their exceptional stability. In this study, we report the synthesis of a novel N,N,N-ligand compatible with a biphenyl dicarboxylic acid-based MOF. However, the resulting copper(I) complex exhibited unexpected coordination behaviour, lacking the intended trifold coordination motif. Herein, we demonstrate the successful immobilization of a bioinspired ligand within the MOF, which preserved its crystalline and porous nature while generating a well-defined copper site. Comprehensive spectroscopic analyses, including X-ray absorption, UV/Vis, and infrared spectroscopy, were conducted to investigate the copper site and its thermal behaviour. The immobilized ligand exhibited the desired tridentate coordination to copper, providing access to a coordination motif otherwise unattainable. Notably, water molecules were also found to coordinate to copper. Upon heating, the copper centre within the MOF exhibited reversible dehydration, suggesting facile creation of open coordination sites. Furthermore, the copper site displayed reduction at elevated temperatures and subsequent susceptibility to oxidation by molecular oxygen. Lastly, both the molecular complexes and the MOF were evaluated as catalysts for the oxidation of cyclohexane using hydrogen peroxide. This work highlights the successful immobilization of a bioinspired ligand in a zirconium-based MOF, shedding light on the structural features, thermal behaviour, and catalytic potential of the resulting copper sites.

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