Zero-Valent Metal-Organic Frameworks for Small Molecule Activation

Name of applicant

Kasper Steen Pedersen


Technical University of Denmark


DKK 4,986,078



Type of grant

Semper Ardens: Accelerate


Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) are porous designer networks that can be envisioned as hosts for catalytically active sites and simultaneously serve as carriers of electrical charges. In this project, we will realize and investigate MOFs constructed on low-valent metal ion nodes. These hypothesized materials distinguish themselves by strong metal-ligand bonds and bonding directionality, both of which are cornerstones of MOF robustness design. Still, no generalizable routes to such materials have been described. These systems provide an unprecedented opportunity to harvest the unique chemical properties known from molecular organometallic chemistry in rigid, porous structures. Specifically, we will target the realization of group six element-based electrocatalytic reduction of CO2 to CO.


The development of non-precious metal catalysts remains a major challenge. Herein we will develop the chemistry of low-valent, earth-abundant metal ion nodes immobilized in rigid frameworks with the aim of creating a genuinely new generation of catalysts for CO2 reduction. MOFs are ideal catalyst candidates due to the possibility of delicately tuning the electronic structure of both the metal ion and organic scaffold parts which, for instance, allows tailoring of structures where well-defined catalytically active sites are embedded in electrically conductive networks. In the big picture, the project will fortify the link between classical organometallic chemistry and MOF chemistry and lead to new avenues in catalysis and the emergent field of chemical reactivity in confined spaces.


The novel materials will be realized by unconventional gas phase crystal growth techniques which circumvent the significant problems associated with the crystallization of robust metal-organic framework structures. This approach also allows for the creating of highly crystalline thin films onto conductive substrates for applications in electrocatalytic testing. The detailed unravelling of the atomic and electronic structures of the materials form the basis for a deep understanding of their chemical reactivity and catalytic function. Here, advanced spectroscopy and diffraction experiments at synchrotron facilities play a key role. The team will consist of the grant recipient, two postdoctoral associates, and one PhD student.

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