The ability to design and construct solid-state materials with pre-determined structures is a grand challenge in chemistry. An inventive strategy based on reticulating metal ions and organic carboxylate links into extended networks has been advanced to a point that has allowed the design of porous structures in which pore size and functionality can be varied systematically. MOF-5, a prototype of a new class of porous materials and one that is constructed from octahedral Zn--O--C clusters and benzene links, was used to demonstrate that its 3-D porous system can be functionalized with the organic groups, --Br, --NH2, --OC.sub.3H.sub.7, --OC.sub.5H.sub.11, --H.sub.4C.sub.2, and --H.sub.4C.sub.4, and its pore size expanded with the long molecular struts biphenyl, tetrahydropyrene, pyrene, and terphenyl. The ability to direct the formation of the octahedral clusters in the presence of a desired carboxylate link is an essential feature of this strategy, which resulted in the design of an isoreticular (having the same framework topology) series of sixteen well-defined materials whose crystals have open space representing up to 91.1% of the crystal volume, and homogeneous periodic pores that can be incrementally varied from 3.8 to 28.8 angstroms. Unlike the unpredictable nature of zeolite and other molecular sieve syntheses, the deliberate control exercised at the molecular level in the design of these crystals is expected to have tremendous implications on materials properties and future technologies. Indeed, data indicate that members of this series represent the first monocrystalline mesoporous organic/inorganic frameworks, and exhibit the highest capacity for methane storage (155 cm.sup.3/cm.sup.3 at 36 atm) and the lowest densities (0.41 to 0.21 g/cm.sup.3) attained to date for any crystalline material at room temperature.
STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT
This invention was made in the course of research partially supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation (Grant No. DMR-9980469) and a grant from the Department of Energy (Grant No. DE-FG02-99ER15000 and Grant No. DE-FG03-98ER14903). The U.S. government has certain rights in the invention.