Framework flexibility of ZIF-8 under liquid intrusion: discovering time-dependent mechanical response and structural relaxation†
The structural flexibility of a topical zeolitic imidazolate framework with sodalite topology, termed ZIF-8, has been elucidated through liquid intrusion under moderate pressures (i.e. tens of MPa). By tracking the evolution of water intrusion pressure under cyclic conditions, we interrogate the role of the gate-opening mechanism controlling the size variation of the pore channels of ZIF-8. Interestingly, we demonstrate that its channel deformation is recoverable through structural relaxation over time, hence revealing the viscoelastic mechanical response in ZIF-8. We propose a simple approach employing a glycerol–water solution mixture, which can significantly enhance the sensitivity of intrusion pressure for the detection of structural deformation in ZIF-8. By leveraging the time-dependent gate-opening phenomenon in ZIF-8, we achieved a notable improvement (50%) in energy dissipation during multicycle mechanical deformation experiments.