Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Chemical Engineering

Major Professor

David J. Keffer

Committee Members

Paul D. Frymier, Robert M. Counce, Claudia J. Rawn


Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) are a new class of nanoporous materials that have received great interest since they were first synthesized in the late 1990s. Practical applications of MOFs are continuously being discovered as a better understanding of the properties of materials adsorbed within the nanopores of MOFs emerges. One such potential application is as a component of an explosive-sensing system. Another potential application is for hydrogen storage.

This work is focused on tailoring MOFs to adsorb/desorb the explosive, RDX. Classical grand canonical Monte Carlo (GCMC) and molecular dynamic (MD) simulations have been performed to calculate adsorption isotherms and self-diffusivities of RDX in several IRMOFs. Because gathering experimental data on explosive compounds is dangerous, data is limited. Simulation can in part fill the gap of missing information. Through these simulations, many of the key issues associated with MOFs preconcentrating RDX have been resolved. The issues include both theoretical issues associated with the computational generation of properties and practical issues associated with the use of MOFs in explosive-sensing system. Theoretically, we evaluate the method for generating partial charges for MOFs and the impact of this choice on the adsorption isotherm and diffusivity. Practically, we show that the tailoring of an MOF with a polar group like an amine can lead to an adsorbent that (i) concentrates RDX from the bulk by as much as a factor of 3000, (ii) is highly selective for RDX, and (iii) retains sufficient RDX mobility allowing for rapid, real time sensing.

Many of the impediments to the effective explosive detection can be framed as shortcomings in the understanding of molecule surface interactions. A fundamental, molecular-level understanding of the interaction between explosives and functionalized MOFs would provide the necessary guidance that allows the next generation of sensors to be developed. This is one of the main driving forces behind this dissertation.

Another important achievement in this work is the demonstration of a new direction for tailoring MOFs. A new class of tailored MOFs containing porphyrins has been proposed. These tailored MOFs show greater capability for hydrogen storage, which also demonstrated the great functionalization of MOFs and great potential to serve as preconcentrators.

The use of a novel multiscale modeling technique to develop equations of state for inhomogeneous fluids is included as a supplement to this dissertation.

Files over 3MB may be slow to open. For best results, right-click and select "save as..."