3 years ago

Atomic resolution of structural changes in elastic crystals of copper(II) acetylacetonate

Atomic resolution of structural changes in elastic crystals of copper(II) acetylacetonate
Arnaud Grosjean, Anna Worthy, John C. McMurtrie, Yanan Xu, Jack K. Clegg, Grant Edwards, Michael C. Pfrunder, Cheng Yan
Single crystals are typically brittle, inelastic materials. Such mechanical responses limit their use in practical applications, particularly in flexible electronics and optical devices. Here we describe single crystals of a well-known coordination compound—copper(II) acetylacetonate—that are flexible enough to be reversibly tied into a knot. Mechanical measurements indicate that the crystals exhibit an elasticity similar to that of soft materials such as nylon, and thus display properties normally associated with both hard and soft matter. Using microfocused synchrotron radiation, we mapped the changes in crystal structure that occur on bending, and determined the mechanism that allows this flexibility with atomic precision. We show that, under strain, the molecules in the crystal reversibly rotate, and thus reorganize to allow the mechanical compression and expansion required for elasticity and still maintain the integrity of the crystal structure.

Publisher URL: https://www.nature.com/articles/nchem.2848

DOI: 10.1038/nchem.2848

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