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Nat Commun. 2014 Jun 20;5:4176. doi: 10.1038/ncomms5176.

Correlated defect nanoregions in a metal-organic framework.

Author information

  • 1Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory, Department of Chemistry, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3QR, UK.
  • 2Berzeli Center EXSELENT on Porous Materials, Department of Materials and Environmental Chemistry, Stockholm University, SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden.
  • 3Diamond Light Source, Chilton, Oxfordshire OX11 0DE, UK.
  • 41] Diamond Light Source, Chilton, Oxfordshire OX11 0DE, UK [2] ISIS Facility, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Harwell Oxford, Didcot, Oxfordshire OX11 0QX, UK.
  • 5Institut de Recherche de Chimie Paris, CNRS-Chimie ParisTech, 11 rue Pierre et Marie Curie, 75005 Paris, France.


Throughout much of condensed matter science, correlated disorder is a key to material function. While structural and compositional defects are known to exist within a variety of metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), the prevailing understanding is that these defects are only ever included in a random manner. Here we show--using a combination of diffuse scattering, electron microscopy, anomalous X-ray scattering and pair distribution function measurements--that correlations between defects can in fact be introduced and controlled within a hafnium terephthalate MOF. The nanoscale defect structures that emerge are an analogue of correlated Schottky vacancies in rocksalt-structured transition metal monoxides and have implications for storage, transport, optical and mechanical responses. Our results suggest how the diffraction behaviour of some MOFs might be reinterpreted, and establish a strategy of exploiting correlated nanoscale disorder as a targetable and desirable motif in MOF design.

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