Stimuli-responsive molecules change their properties when exposed to external signals, such as light, and enable the preparation of smart materials. UV light, which often destroys organic materials, is typically required for activating the desired response of photoswitchable compounds, significantly limiting the potential applications of light-operated smart materials. Herein, we present the first metal–organic framework (MOF), which enables reversible modulation of key properties upon irradiation with visible light only.
The fluorinated azobenzene side groups in the MOF structure can be reversibly switched between the trans and cis state by green and violet light, avoiding UV light. It was demonstrated that the uptake of guest molecules by these MOF films can be switched in a fully remote-controlled way. The membrane separation of hydrogen/hydrocarbon mixtures was investigated. The light-induced changes of the MOF pore size result in the switching of the permeation and of the selection factor.