Understanding the origin of the particularly small and anisotropic thermal expansion of MOF-74

Tomas Kamencek, Benedikt Schrode, Roland Resel, Raffaele Ricco, Egbert Zojer

Research output: Working paperPreprint


Metal-organic frameworks often display large positive or negative thermal expansion coefficients. MOF-74, a material envisioned for many applications does not display such a behavior. For this system, temperature-dependent x-ray diffraction reveals particularly small negative thermal expansion coefficients perpendicular and positive ones parallel to the hexagonally arranged pores. The observed trends are explained by combining state-of-the-art density-functional theory calculations with the Grüneisen theory of thermal expansion, which allows tracing back thermal expansion to contributions of individual phonons. On the macroscopic level, the small thermal expansion coefficients arise from two aspects: compensation effects caused by the large coupling between stress and strain perpendicular to the pores and the small magnitudes of the mean Grüneisen tensor elements, ⟨γ⟩, which provide information on how strains in the material influence its phonon frequencies. To understand the small mean Grüneisen tensor in MOF-74, the individual mode contributions are analyzed based on the corresponding atomic motions. This reveals that only the lowest frequency modes up to ~3 THz provide non-negligible contributions, such that ⟨γ⟩ drops sharply at higher temperatures. These considerations reveal how the details of the anharmonic properties of specific phonon bands determine the magnitude and sign of thermal expansion in a prototypical material like MOF-74
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jan 2022


  • cond-mat.mtrl-sci

Fields of Expertise

  • Advanced Materials Science

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