Materials demonstrating unusual large positive and negative thermal expansion are fascinating for their potential applications as high-precision microscale actuators and thermal expansion compensators for normal solids. However, manipulating molecular motion to execute huge thermal expansion of materials remains a formidable challenge. Here, we report a single-crystal Cu(II) complex exhibiting giant thermal expansion actuated by collective reorientation of imidazoliums. The circular molecular cations, which are rotationally disordered at a high temperature and statically ordered at a low temperature, demonstrate significant reorientation in the molecular planes. Such atypical molecular motion, revealed by variable-temperature single crystal X-ray diffraction and solid-state NMR analyses, drives an exceptionally large positive thermal expansion and a negative thermal expansion in a perpendicular direction of the crystal. The consequent large shape change (~10%) of bulk material, with remarkable durability, suggests that this complex is a strong candidate as a microscale thermal actuating material.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)