Project Details Coordination polymers and metal organic frameworks: terminology and nomenclature guidelines

Project No.: 
Start Date: 
01 August 2009
End Date: 
01 September 2013


The objectives of this project are (1) to produce guidelines for terminology (glossary of terms) and nomenclature (concerning topology, not naming of individual substances*) in the area of coordination polymers, (2) to ensure that these guidelines are accepted by a large group of leading researchers in the field, and (3) to have these guidelines implemented or referred to in the instructions to authors of leading general and inorganic chemistry journals.


Coordination polymers and metal organic frameworks constitute an interdisciplinary research field with its origins in inorganic and coordination chemistry that has expanded rapidly the last 15 years, and is now also attracting the interest of the chemical industry.

The diversity in both focus and scientific basis of the researchers involved has lead to numerous terminology suggestions and practices for this class of compounds and of several subgroups within; additionally, a disquieting number of abbreviations are also in use. Moreover, naming* of the networks obtained and terminology practices are not consistent among research groups, causing much confusion and unnecessary conflicts.

This project will bring together a task force of scientists in the field with the objectives to:
1. Document, analyze and evaluate existing practices.
2. Make preliminary suggestions for a limited number of terms and abbreviations (glossary of terms).
3. Develop a preliminary list of inappropriate terms with reasons for their rejection.
4. Organize discussions of these recommendations with a large group of researchers in the area.
5. Investigate if current IUPAC nomenclature for the naming of coordination polymers need revision.
6. Adjust and optimize preliminary findings in order to have highest possible acceptance from the research community.
7. Publish the final recommendations in PAC.
8. Approach journal editors and publishers to have the recommendations included, or cited, in their guidelines for authors.

It is not planned that this task group should deal with the explicit nomenclature and naming of the three-dimensional nets (topology descriptions) that some of these compound forms. However, the ad hoc assumption is that among the findings of the project, the need for a regulated system for naming and analyzing these networks will be highlighted. A subsequent project dealing explicitly with these matters in collaboration with the International Union of Crystallography (IUCr) is envisaged.

*It is not the primary goal of this group to deal with the naming (nomenclature) of individual substances, the nomenclature involved concerns the topology of the networks formed by these compounds. However, we will also check how current IUPAC recommendations are followed and applied for these compounds, and, if so needed, make recommendations after consulting with division VIII. (A division VIII member is attached to the group.)

We list two compounds illustrating different archetypes:
catena-(tris(m4-1,4-Benzenedicarboxylato)-(m4-oxo)-tetra-zinc octakis(dimethylformamide) chlorobenzene clathrate)
also know as MOF-5 [Li, H.; Eddaoudi, M.; O’Keeffe, M.; Yaghi, O. M., Nature 1999, 402, 276] and catena((m4-4,4′,4”,4”’-Tetracyanotetraphenylmethane)-copper(I) tetrafluoroborate nitrobenzene solvate) [Hoskins, B. F.; Robson, R., J. Am. Chem. Soc. 1989, 111, 5962]
For a recent news article see: Jacoby, M., Heading To Market With MOFs, Chem. & Eng. News, Aug. 25, 2008, 13.


Aug 2009 – The task group held its first meeting during the GA in Glasgow early August.

Jan 2010 – project announcement published in Chem. Int. Vol. 32 No. 1

Mar 2011 – The IUPAC task group invites you to take part in this questionnaire on CP/MOF terminology:

  1. Go to the survey (a google spreadsheet)
  2. Take a look at this documentation: “A short review of the use of the terms “Metal-Organic framework” and “Coordination Polymer” (PDF-185KB), and
  3. Return your comments directly to the chair at [email protected]

Jan 2012 – The task group will have a final meeting on 24 May 2012, in Stockholm preceded by a one day symposium on 23 May on “Metal-organic frameworks, porous coordination polymers and zeolites” organised in collaboration with the “Trends in Inorganic Chemistry” symposium of the Swedish Chemical Society’s Inorganic division. The symposium will feature talks by task group members Michael O’Keeffe (Arizona State University, USA), Neil Champness (University of Nottingham, UK), Susumu Kitagawa (Kyoto University, Japan), Stuart Batten (Monash University, Australia), Javier Garcia-Martinez (University of Alicante, Spain), Xiao-Ming Chen (Sun Yat-Sen University, Beijing, China), and Myunghyun Paik Suh (Seoul National University, South Korea) as well as Tina Düren (University of Edinburgh, UK) and Unni Olsbye (University of Oslo, Norway). Proceedings from the meeting will be published in an open access special issue of Zeitschrift fur Kristallographie, 2013. Further information on the symposium is available at

Feb 2012 – A brief discussion type account of the task force’s work is scheduled to be published in Cryst Eng Comm as a highlight; see: – first published on the web 02 Feb 2012.

That paper has been selected as a Cryst Eng Comm Hot Article! and featured on the Cryst Eng Comm Blog at (It will be free to access for four weeks, from mid Feb to mid March.) 

Dec 2012 – the provisional recommendations titled “Terminology of Metal-Organic Frameworks and Coordination Polymers” was made available for public review until 30 April 2013.

Aug 2013Project complete – Terminology of metal-organic frameworks and coordination polymers (IUPAC Recommendations 2013) has been published in Pure Appl. Chem., 2013, Vol. 85, No. 8, pp. 1715-1724;

Feb 2014 – A discussion about this CP/MOF project appears in the Feb 10, 2014 issue of C&EN [link].

July 2014 – The IUPAC Recommendations 2013, published in PAC (see above) has been translated in German and published in Angewandte Chemie, Vol. 126, No. 27, pp. 7209-7215;

Dec 2014What is a MOF? (one page pdf) by Lars Ohrstrom, from the MOF Commission of the International Zeolite Association (IZA)

Last updated 1 April 2015