The ability of thermosalient solids, organic analogues of inorganic martensites, to move by rapid mechanical reconfiguration or ballistic event remains visually appealing and potentially useful, yet mechanistically elusive phenomenon. Here, with a material that undergoes both thermosalient and non-thermosalient phase transitions, we demonstrate that the thermosalient effect is preceded by anomalous thermal expansion of the unit cell. The crystal explosion occurs as sudden release of the latent strain accumulated during the anisotropic, exceedingly strong expansion of the unit cell with αa = 225.9 × 10-6 K-1, αb = 238.8 × 10-6 K-1 and αc = -290.0 × 10-6 K-1, the latter being the largest negative thermal expansivity observed for an organic compound thus far. The results point out to the occurence of the thermosalient effect in phase transitions as means to identify new molecular materials with strong positive and/or negative thermal expansion which prior to this work could only be discovered serendipitously.
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