Strategies to Diversification of the Mechanical Properties of Organic Crystals

Shuting Dai, Jiangbin Zhong, Xiqiao Yang, Chao Chen, Liping Zhou, Xinyu Liu, Jingbo Sun, Kaiqi Ye, Hongyu Zhang, Liang Li, Panče Naumov, Ran Lu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Structurally ordered soft materials that respond to complementary stimuli are susceptible to control over their spatial and temporal morphostructural configurations by intersectional or combined effects such as gating, feedback, shape-memory, or programming. In the absence of general and robust design and prediction strategies for their mechanical properties, at present, combined chemical and crystal engineering approaches could provide useful guidelines to identify effectors that determine both the magnitude and time of their response. Here, we capitalize on the purported ability of soft intermolecular interactions to instigate mechanical compliance by using halogenation to elicit both mechanical and photochemical activity of organic crystals. Starting from (E)-1,4-diphenylbut-2-ene-1,4-dione, whose crystals are brittle and photoinert, we use double and quadruple halogenation to introduce halogen-bonded planes that become interfaces for molecular gliding, rendering the material mechanically and photochemically plastic. Fluorination diversifies the mechanical effects further, and crystals of the tetrafluoro derivative are not only elastic but also motile, displaying the rare photosalient effect.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere202320223
JournalAngewandte Chemie - International Edition
Issue number24
StatePublished - Jun 10 2024


  • actuators
  • molecular crystals
  • photochemical reactions
  • photomechanical effect
  • [2+2] cycloaddition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • General Chemistry


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