Gating effect for gas adsorption in microporous materials—mechanisms and applications
In the past two decades, various microporous materials have been developed as useful adsorbents for gas adsorption for a wide range of industries. Considerable efforts have been made to regulate the pore accessibility in microporous materials for the manipulation of guest molecules’ admission and release. It has long been known that some microporous adsorbents suddenly become highly accessible to guest molecules at specific conditions, e.g., above a threshold pressure or temperature. This anomalous adsorption behavior results from a gating effect, where a structural variation of the adsorbent leads to an abrupt change in the gas admission. This review summarizes the mechanisms of the gating effect, which can be a result of the deformation of the framework (e.g., expansion, contraction, reorientation, and sliding of the unit cells), the vibration of the pore-keeping groups (e.g., rotation, swing, and collapse of organic linkers), and the oscillation of the pore-keeping ions (e.g. cesium, potassium, etc.). These structural variations are induced either by the host–guest interaction or by an external stimulus, such as temperature or light, and account for the gating effect at a threshold value of the stimulus. Emphasis is given to the temperature-regulated gating effect, where the critical admission temperature is dictated by the combined effect of the gate opening and thermodynamic factors and plays a key role in regulating guest admission. Molecular simulations can improve our understanding of the gate opening/closing transitions at the atomic scale and enable the construction of quantitative models to describe the gated adsorption behaviour at the macroscale level. The gating effect in porous materials has been widely applied in highly selective gas separation and offers great potential for gas storage and sensing.