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.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)