Harnessing molecular motion to reversibly control macroscopic properties, such as shape and size, is a fascinating and challenging subject in materials science. Here we design a crystalline cobalt(II) complex with an n-butyl group on its ligands, which exhibits a reversible crystal deformation at a structural phase transition temperature. In the low-temperature phase, the molecular motion of the n-butyl group freezes. On heating, the n-butyl group rotates ca. 100° around the C-C bond resulting in 6-7% expansion of the crystal size along the molecular packing direction. Importantly, crystal deformation is repeatedly observed without breaking the single-crystal state even though the shape change is considerable. Detailed structural analysis allows us to elucidate the underlying mechanism of this deformation. This work may mark a step towards converting the alkyl rotation to the macroscopic deformation in crystalline solids.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)