Unit-cell-thick zeolitic imidazolate framework films for membrane application

Qi Liu, Yurun Miao, Luis Francisco Villalobos, Shaoxian Li, Heng-Yu Chi, Cailing Chen, Mohammad Tohidi Vahdat, Shuqing Song, Deepu J Babu, Jian Hao, Yu Han, Michael Tsapatsis, Kumar Varoon Agrawal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Zeolitic imidazolate frameworks (ZIFs) are a subset of metal–organic frameworks with more than 200 characterized crystalline and amorphous networks made of divalent transition metal centres (for example, Zn2+ and Co2+) linked by imidazolate linkers. ZIF thin films have been intensively pursued, motivated by the desire to prepare membranes for selective gas and liquid separations. To achieve membranes with high throughput, as in ångström-scale biological channels with nanometre-scale path lengths, ZIF films with the minimum possible thickness—down to just one unit cell—are highly desired. However, the state-of-the-art methods yield membranes where ZIF films have thickness exceeding 50 nm. Here we report a crystallization method from ultradilute precursor mixtures, which exploits registry with the underlying crystalline substrate, yielding (within minutes) crystalline ZIF films with thickness down to that of a single structural building unit (2 nm). The film crystallized on graphene has a rigid aperture made of a six-membered zinc imidazolate coordination ring, enabling high-permselective H2 separation performance. The method reported here will probably accelerate the development of two-dimensional metal–organic framework films for efficient membrane separation.
Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - Sep 21 2023

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2023-09-27
Acknowledgements: We acknowledge D. Chernyshov and D. Vadim at beamline BM01, the Swiss-Norwegian Beamlines (SNBL), European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF), for assistance with synchrotron GIXRD experiments (https://doi.org/10.15151/ESRF-ES-670011338); P. A. Schouwink from EPFL for help with the X-ray diffraction data; and M. Mensi and M. Rezaei from EPFL for help with XPS and AFM measurements. This project is primarily supported by the European Research Council Starting Grant (805437-UltimateMembranes). Parts of this work were supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) Assistant Professor Energy Grant (PYAPP2_173645) and SNSF project (514601); Y.M. and M.T. acknowledge funding by the US Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, Division of Chemical Sciences, Geosciences and Biosciences, under award DE-SC0021212. Q.L. acknowledges funding by the Soochow University Starting Grant (NH10902123).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • General Materials Science
  • General Chemistry
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Condensed Matter Physics


Dive into the research topics of 'Unit-cell-thick zeolitic imidazolate framework films for membrane application'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this