Metal-organic microporous materials (MOMs) have attracted wide scientific attention owing to their unusual structure and properties, as well as commercial interest due to their potential applications in storage, separation and heterogeneous catalysis. One of the advantages of MOMs compared to other microporous materials, such as activated carbons, is their ability to exhibit a variety of pore surface properties such as hydrophilicity and chirality, as a result of the controlled incorporation of organic functional groups into the pore walls. This capability means that the pore surfaces of MOMs could be designed to adsorb specific molecules; but few design strategies for the adsorption of small molecules have been established so far. Here we report high levels of selective sorption of acetylene molecules as compared to a very similar molecule, carbon dioxide, onto the functionalized surface of a MOM. The acetylene molecules are held at a periodic distance from one another by hydrogen bonding between two non-coordinated oxygen atoms in the nanoscale pore wall of the MOM and the two hydrogen atoms of the acetylene molecule. This permits the stable storage of acetylene at a density 200 times the safe compression limit of free acetylene at room temperature.
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