Nat Commun. 2023 Sep 2;14(1):5347. doi: 10.1038/s41467-023-41055-6.
Tetraphenylethylene (TPE)-based ligands are appealing for constructing metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) with new functions and responsiveness. Here, we report a non-interpenetrated TPE-based scu Zr-MOF with anisotropic flexibility, that is, Zr-TCPE (H4TCPE = 1,1,2,2-tetra(4-carboxylphenyl)ethylene), remaining two anisotropic pockets. The framework flexibility is further anisotropically rigidified by installing linkers individually at specific pockets. By individually installing dicarboxylic acid L1 or L2 at pocket A or B, the framework flexibility along the b-axis or c-axis is rigidified, and the intermolecular or intramolecular motions of organic ligands are restricted, respectively. Synergistically, with dual linker installation, the flexibility is completely rigidified with the restriction of ligand motion, resulting in MOFs with enhanced stability and improved separation ability. Furthermore, in situ observation of the flipping of the phenyl ring and its rigidification process is made by 2H solid-state NMR. The anisotropic rigidification of flexibility in scu Zr-MOFs guides the directional control of ligand motion for designing stimuli-responsive emitting or efficient separation materials.