Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Brian Space, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Randy W. Larsen, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Arjan van der Vaart, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Lilia M. Woods, Ph.D.


metal–organic frameworks, metal–organic materials, gas sorption, air purification, materials engineering, molecular simulation, monte carlo, environmental chemistry


Metal–organic materials (MOMs), a type of porous crystalline structure composed of organic ligands jointed with metal ions, have captured the interest of scientists as potentially useful in gas sorption applications. Some of the most crucial avenues of investigation are in H2 storage (for use as a clean burning fuel source) and CO2 capture and sequestration (to remove the greenhouse gas from the environment).

A major advantage of MOMs for such applications is their high variability in terms of physical dimensions and chemical moieties, based on composition and synthesis conditions, making them potentially customizable for specific application if necessary structural characteristics are known. Computational experimentation is an important avenue for determining such specifications as it allows examination of gas/MOM interaction at the molecular level. In this dissertation a number of MOM structure are computationally studied in order to elucidate gas sorption mechanisms. These systems were probed by classical simulation using grand canonical Monte Carlo with a carefully chosen set of intermolecular interaction parameters. While the focus of this work is specifically H2 and CO2 sorptive behavior, the insights gained from simulation extend beyond these specific applications.

Addressed first are a series of MOMs with rht topology, which possesses asymmetric copper paddle-wheels and easily functionalized linkers. Beginning with a prototypical structure and then branching out into more chemically interesting variants revealed surprising gas sorption behavior about the metal paddle-wheels (with a definite preference for one copper over its counterpart). A synthetic strategy for controlling the preferred open-metal sorption site through the inclusion of electron rich functionality in the linker bodies, was also revealed. An additional MOM with similar composition components, exhibiting zyg topology, also showed this metal preference effect on the asymmetric paddle-wheels.

A second class of MOMs, composed of square-pillared grids and known as the SIFSIX series (due to the inclusion of SiF62− as pillaring units) was also examined. These structures have been shown excellent results for CO2 sorption making the elucidation of the sorptive mechanisms of great interest. Six different structures were examined, probing the effects of linker length, metal selection, and interpenitration of unbonded scaffolds. The nature of the CO2-MOM sorption interactions were revealed through simulation and provided insights regarding the synergistic effect of pore dimensions and SiF62− functionality for specifying specific behavior (i.e. high selectivity vs. high uptake).

A final MOM, composed of Y3+ ions and chemically complex linkers, was also examined. Disorder in the crystallographic data (e.g. single atoms with multiple positions) indicated the coexistance of notably different unit cells in the same system. Nevertheless, simulations revealed favored sorption sites in conjunction with results from physical experimentation.