Molecular Dynamics Simulations of the Breathing Phase Transition of MOF Nanocrystallites II: Explicitly Modeling the Pressure Medium

Schaper, L. and Keupp, J. and Schmid, R.

Volume: 9 Pages:
DOI: 10.3389/fchem.2021.757680
Published: 2021

One of the most investigated properties of porous crystalline metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) is their potential flexibility to undergo large changes in unit cell size upon guest adsorption or other stimuli, referred to as “breathing”. Computationally, such phase transitions are usually investigated using periodic boundary conditions, where the system’s volume can be controlled directly. However, we have recently shown that important aspects like the formation of a moving interface between the open and the closed pore form or the free energy barrier of the first-order phase transition and its size effects can best be investigated using non-periodic nanocrystallite (NC) models [Keupp et al. (Adv. Theory Simul., 2019, 2, 1900117)]. In this case, the application of pressure is not straightforward, and a distance constraint was used to mimic a mechanical strain enforcing the reaction coordinate. In contrast to this prior work, a mediating particle bath is used here to exert an isotropic hydrostatic pressure on the MOF nanocrystallites. The approach is inspired by the mercury nanoporosimetry used to compress flexible MOF powders. For such a mediating medium, parameters are presented that require a reasonable additional numerical effort and avoid unwanted diffusion of bath particles into the MOF pores. As a proof-of-concept, NCs of pillared-layer MOFs with different linkers and sizes are studied concerning their response to external pressure exerted by the bath. By this approach, an isotropic pressure on the NC can be applied in analogy to corresponding periodic simulations, without any bias for a specific mechanism. This allows a more realistic investigation of the breathing phase transformation of a MOF NC and further bridges the gap between experiment and simulation. © Copyright © 2021 Schaper, Keupp and Schmid.

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