Crystallization of Small Organic Molecules in a Polymer Matrix: Multistep Mechanism Enables Structural Control

Ily A. Bronshtein, Haim Weissman, Ifat Kaplan-Ashiri, Boris Rybtchinski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The widely employed crystallization of organic molecules in solution is not well understood and is difficult to control. Employing polymers as crystallization media may allow enhanced control via temperature-induced regulation of polymer dynamics. Crystallization of a small organic molecule (perylene diimide) is investigated in polymer matrices (polystyrene) that enable the mechanistic study and control over order evolution. The crystallization is induced by heating above the glass transition temperature of the polymer, and quenched by cooling, leading to stabilization of crystallization intermediates. The mechanistic studies include direct imaging by electron microscopy, revealing a complex self-assembly process starting from amorphous aggregates that densify and transform into an unstable crystalline phase of N,N '-bis(2,6-dimethylphenyl)perylene-3,4,9,10-tetracarboxylic diimide (DMP-PDI), followed by a conversion into a more stable crystalline form. Stabilization of crystallization intermediates at room temperature provides diverse structures based on a single molecular component. These findings have implications for the rational design of organic crystalline materials.


Original languageEnglish
Article number1902936
Number of pages7
JournalSmall
Volume15
Issue number38
DOIs
StatePublished - 5 Aug 2019

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