Three multi-carboxylic acid functionalised ligands have been designed, synthesised and utilised to prepare the new barium-based MOFs, MFM-510, -511, and -512, which show excellent stability to water-vapour. MFM-510 and MFM-511 show moderate proton conductivities (2.1 × 10-5 and 5.1 × 10-5 S cm-1, respectively) at 99% RH and 298 K, attributed to the lack of free protons or hindered proton diffusion within the framework structures. In contrast, MFM-512, which incorporates a pendant carboxylic acid group directed into the pore of the framework, shows a two orders of magnitude enhancement in proton conductivity (2.9 × 10-3 S cm-1). Quasi-elastic neutron scattering (QENS) suggests that the proton dynamics of MFM-512 are mediated by "free diffusion inside a sphere" confirming that incorporation of free carboxylic acid groups within the pores of MOFs is an efficient albeit synthetically challenging strategy to improve proton conductivity.
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