Shape-memory effects in molecular crystals

Ejaz Ahmed, Durga Prasad Karothu, Mark Warren, Pance Naumov*

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Molecular crystals can be bent elastically by expansion or plastically by delamination into slabs that glide along slip planes. Here we report that upon bending, terephthalic acid crystals can undergo a mechanically induced phase transition without delamination and their overall crystal integrity is retained. Such plastically bent crystals act as bimorphs and their phase uniformity can be recovered thermally by taking the crystal over the phase transition temperature. This recovers the original straight shape and the crystal can be bent by a reverse thermal treatment, resulting in shape memory effects akin of those observed with some metal alloys and polymers. We anticipate that similar memory and restorative effects are common for other molecular crystals having metastable polymorphs. The results demonstrate the advantage of using intermolecular interactions to accomplish mechanically adaptive properties with organic solids that bridge the gap between mesophasic and inorganic materials in the materials property space.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3723
Pages (from-to)3723
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 19 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


Dive into the research topics of 'Shape-memory effects in molecular crystals'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this