Mixed-metal metal–organic frameworks†
Mixed-metal MOFs are metal–organic frameworks that contain at least 2 different metal ions as nodes of their frameworks. They are prepared relatively easily by either a one-pot synthesis with a synthesis mixture containing the different metals, or by a post-synthetic ion-exchange method by soaking a monometallic MOF in a concentrated solution of a different (but compatible) metal-ion. More difficult is the accurate characterization of these materials. Is the formed product a mixture of monometallic MOFs or indeed a MOF with different metallic nodes? Are the metals randomly distributed or do they form domains? What is the oxidation state of the metals? How do the metals mutually influence each other, and impact the material's performance? Advanced characterization techniques are required e.g. X-ray absorption spectroscopy, magnetic resonance and electron microscopy. Computational tools at multiple scales are also often applied. In almost every case, a judicious choice of several techniques is required to unambiguously characterize the mixed-metal MOF. Although still in their infancy, several applications are emerging for mixed-metal MOFs, that improve on conventional monometallic MOFs. In the field of gas sorption and storage, especially the stability and affinity towards the target gases can be largely improved by introducing a second metal ion. In the case of flexible MOFs, the breathing behavior, and in particular the pressure at which the MOF opens, can be tailored. In heterogeneous catalysis, new cascade and tandem reactions become possible, with particular focus on reactions where the two metals in close proximity truly form a mixed-metal transition state. The bimetallic MOF should have a clear benefit over a mixture of the respective monometallic MOFs, and bimetallic enzymes can be a huge source of inspiration in this field. Another very promising application lies in the fields of luminescence and sensing. By tuning the lanthanide metals in mixed-metal lanthanide MOFs and by using the organic linkers as antennae, novel smart materials can be developed, acting as sensors and as thermochromic thermometers. Of course there are also still open challenges, as also mixed-metal MOFs do not escape the typical drawbacks of MOFs, such as low stability in moisture and possible metal leaching in liquids. The ease of synthesis of mixed-metal MOFs is a large bonus. In this critical review, we discuss in detail the synthesis, characterization, computational work and applications of mixed-metal MOFs.