Hydrothermal Crystallization of Uranyl Coordination Polymers Involving an Imidazolium Dicarboxylate Ligand: Effect of pH on the Nuclearity of Uranyl-Centered Subunits

Four uranyl-bearing coordination polymers (14) have been hydrothermally synthesized in the presence of the zwitterionic 1,3-bis­(carboxymethyl)­imidazolium (= imdc) anion as organic linkers after reaction at 150 °C. At low pH (0.8–3.1), the form 1 ((UO2)2(imdc)2(ox)·3H2O; ox stands for oxalate group) has been identified. Its crystal structure (XRD analysis) consists of the 8-fold-coordinated uranyl centers linked to each other through the imdc ligand together with oxalate species coming from the partial decomposition of the imdc molecule. The resulting structure is based on one-dimensional infinite ribbons intercalated by free water molecules. By adding NaOH solution, a second form 2 is observed for pH 1.9–3.9 but in a mixture with phase 1. The pure phase of 2 is obtained after a hydrothermal treatment at 120 °C. It corresponds to a double-layered network (UO2(imdc)2) composed of 7-fold-coordinated uranyl cations linked via the imdc ligands. In the same pH range, a third phase ((UO2)3O2(H2O)­(imdc)·H2O, 3) is formed: it is composed of hexanuclear units of 7-fold- and 8-fold-coordinated uranyl cations, connected via the imdc molecules in a layered assembly. At higher pH, the chain-like solid (UO2)3O­(OH)3(imdc)·2H2O (4) is observed and composed of the infinite edge-sharing uranyl-centered pentagonal bipyramidal polyhedra. As a function of pH, uranyl nuclearity increases from discrete 8- or 7-fold uranyl centers (1, 2) to hexanuclear bricks (3) and then infinite chains in 4 (built up from the hexameric fragments found in 3). This observation emphasized the influence of the hydrolysis reaction occurring between uranyl centers. The compounds have been further characterized by thermogravimetric analysis, infrared, and luminescence spectroscopy.