Extreme compressibility in LnFe(CN)6 coordination framework materials via molecular gears and torsion springs
Nature chemistry | 20 Feb 2016
SG Duyker, VK Peterson, GJ Kearley, AJ Studer and CJ Kepert
The mechanical flexibility of coordination frameworks can lead to a range of highly anomalous structural behaviours. Here, we demonstrate the extreme compressibility of the LnFe(CN)6 frameworks (Ln = Ho, Lu or Y), which reversibly compress by 20% in volume under the relatively low pressure of 1 GPa, one of the largest known pressure responses for any crystalline material. We delineate in detail the mechanism for this high compressibility, where the LnN6 units act like torsion springs synchronized by rigid Fe(CN)6 units performing the role of gears. The materials also show significant negative linear compressibility via a cam-like effect. The torsional mechanism is fundamentally distinct from the deformation mechanisms prevalent in other flexible solids and relies on competition between locally unstable metal coordination geometries and the constraints of the framework connectivity, a discovery that has implications for the strategic design of new materials with exceptional mechanical properties.
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