Photosalient behavior of photoreactive crystals

Raghavender Medishetty, Subash Chandra Sahoo, Caroline Evania Mulijanto, Panče Naumov, Jagadese J. Vittal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Being documented with only about a dozen serendipitous observations, the photosalient effect, where crystals leap when exposed to light, is considered a very rare phenomenon. Here, with a set of structurally related materials that undergo [2 + 2] photocycloaddition we present evidence that this effect is more common than it has been realized in the past, and we seek to establish correlations with the kinematics and the crystal structure toward rational design of photosalient materials. To that end, nine photoreactive complexes AgL2X2 (L = 4-styrylpyridine, 2-fluoro-4-styrylpyridine, and 3-fluoro-4-styrylpyridine, X = BF4-, ClO4- and NO3-) were prepared. The [AgL2]+ cations in these structures pack by both head-to-head and head-to-tail alignment of the styrylpyridine ligands. Crystals of six out of the nine complexes were photosalient and popped, hopped, and/or leaped when exposed to UV light. It is concluded that the occurrence of the photosalient effect is determined not only by the nature of the ligand but also by the crystal packing which directs the magnitude, direction, and rate of volume expansion during the photoreaction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1821-1829
Number of pages9
JournalChemistry of Materials
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 10 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Materials Chemistry


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