Near-field infrared nanospectroscopy reveals guest confinement in metal-organic framework single crystals

A. Möslein, M. Gutiérrez, B. Cohen and J.-C. Tan

Nanoletters, Article ASAP (2020)
Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) can provide exceptional porosity for molecular guest encapsulation useful for emergent applications in sensing, gas storage, drug delivery and optoelectronics. Central to the realisation of such applications however is the successful incorporation of a functional guest confined within the host framework. Here we demonstrate, for the first time, the feasibility of scattering-type scanning near-field optical microscopy (s-SNOM) and nano-Fourier transform infrared (nanoFTIR) spectroscopy, in concert with density functional theory (DFT) calculations to reveal the vibrational characteristics of the Guest@MOF systems. Probing individual MOF crystals, we pinpoint the local molecular vibrations and thus, shed new light on the host-guest interactions at the nanoscale. Our strategy not only confirms the successful encapsulation of luminescent guest molecules in the porous host framework in single crystals, but further provides a new methodology for nanoscale-resolved physical and chemical identification of wide-ranging framework materials and designer porous systems for advanced applications.