Flexible Molecular Crystals: Single Crystals that Bend, Stretch and Twist (2019–2022)
Since antiquity, crystalline materials have been thought to be brittle and inflexible. Crystals can, in fact, display appreciable, even remarkable, elasticity. Some crystals can bend, stretch and twist and as proof we have tied a single crystal in a knot. This project aims to thoroughly quantify the elastic flexibility of a suite of metal-organic molecular crystals. The influence that the molecules, and their arrangements in crystals, have on the extent of elasticity will be determined along with molecular-scale mechanisms for contortion. This information will be used to design new crystals with predictable and tunable elasticity for potential applications previously considered impossible for crystalline materials.