Single Crystals Popping Under UV Light: A Photosalient Effect Triggered by a [2+2] Cycloaddition Reaction

Authors

  • Raghavender Medishetty,

    1. Department of Chemistry, National University of Singapore, Science Drive 3, Singapore 117543 (Singapore)
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  • Dr. Ahmad Husain,

    1. New York University Abu Dhabi, PO Box 129188, Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates)
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  • Zhaozhi Bai,

    1. Department of Chemistry, National University of Singapore, Science Drive 3, Singapore 117543 (Singapore)
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  • Tomče Runčevski,

    1. Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research, Heisenbergstrasse 1, 70569 Stuttgart (Germany)
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  • Prof. Dr. Robert E. Dinnebier,

    1. Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research, Heisenbergstrasse 1, 70569 Stuttgart (Germany)
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  • Prof. Dr. Panče Naumov,

    Corresponding author
    1. New York University Abu Dhabi, PO Box 129188, Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates)
    • Panče Naumov, New York University Abu Dhabi, PO Box 129188, Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates)===

      Jagadese J. Vittal, Department of Chemistry, National University of Singapore, Science Drive 3, Singapore 117543 (Singapore)===

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  • Prof. Dr. Jagadese J. Vittal

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Chemistry, National University of Singapore, Science Drive 3, Singapore 117543 (Singapore)
    • Panče Naumov, New York University Abu Dhabi, PO Box 129188, Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates)===

      Jagadese J. Vittal, Department of Chemistry, National University of Singapore, Science Drive 3, Singapore 117543 (Singapore)===

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  • We thank the Ministry of Education, Singapore, for financial support through NUS FRC Grant No. R-143-000-562-112. P.N. and A.H. thank New York University Abu Dhabi for financial support.

Abstract

The extremely rare examples of dynamic single crystals where excitation by light or heat induces macroscopic motility present not only a visually appealing demonstration of the utility of molecular materials for conversion of energy to work, but they also provide a unique opportunity to explore the mechanistic link between collective molecular processes and their consequences at a macroscopic level. Here, we report the first example of a photosalient effect (photoinduced leaping) observed with crystals of three coordination complexes which is induced by a [2+2] photocycloaddition reaction. Unlike a plethora of other dimerization reactions, when exposed to even weak UV light, single crystals of these materials burst violently, whereby they are propelled to travel several millimeters. The results point to a multistep mechanism where the strain energy that has been accumulated during the dimerization triggers a rapid structure transformation which ultimately results in crystal disintegration.

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