Research ArticleChemistry

Hypergolic zeolitic imidazolate frameworks (ZIFs) as next-generation solid fuels: Unlocking the latent energetic behavior of ZIFs

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Science Advances  05 Apr 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 4, eaav9044
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aav9044


Hypergolic materials, capable of spontaneous ignition upon contact with an external oxidizer, are of critical importance as fuels and propellants in aerospace applications (e.g., rockets and spacecraft). Currently used hypergolic fuels are highly energetic, toxic, and carcinogenic hydrazine derivatives, inspiring the search for cleaner and safer hypergols. Here, we demonstrate the first strategy to design hypergolic behavior within a metal-organic framework (MOF) platform, by using simple “trigger” functionalities to unlock the latent and generally not recognized energetic properties of zeolitic imidazolate frameworks, a popular class of MOFs. The herein presented six hypergolic MOFs, based on zinc, cobalt, and cadmium, illustrate a uniquely modular platform to develop hypergols free of highly energetic or carcinogenic components, in which varying the metal and linker components enables the modulation of ignition and combustion properties, resulting in excellent hypergolic response evident by ultrashort ignition delays as low as 2 ms.

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