Three-dimensional electron diffraction for porous crystalline materials: structural determination and beyond†
Porous crystalline materials such as zeolites, metal–organic frameworks (MOFs) and covalent organic frameworks (COFs) have attracted great interest due to their well-defined pore structures in molecular dimensions. Knowing the atomic structures of porous materials is crucial for understanding their properties and exploring their applications. Many porous materials are synthesized as polycrystalline powders, which are too small for structure determination by X-ray diffraction. Three-dimensional electron diffraction (3DED) has been developed for studying such materials. In this Minireview, we summarize the recent developments of 3DED methods and demonstrate how 3DED revolutionized structural analysis of zeolites, MOFs, and COFs. Zeolites and MOFs whose structures remained unknown for decades could be solved. New approaches for design and targeted synthesis of novel zeolites could be developed. Moreover, we discuss the advances of structural analysis by 3DED in revealing the unique structural features and properties, such as heteroatom distributions, mixed-metal frameworks, structural flexibility, guest–host interactions, and structure transformation.