Field-Induced Antipolar–Polar Structural Transformation and Giant Electrostriction in Organic Crystal

The field-induced antipolar–polar structural transition in an organic antiferroelectric 2-trifluoromethylnaphthimidazole crystal is investigated by performing synchrotron X-ray diffraction. The polarities of all of the hydrogen-bonded chains become parallel with each other in the presence of an external electric field. The switching is accompanied by a giant electrostriction, which provides 1 order of magnitude larger strain than the piezoelectric strain of the organic ferroelectrics: croconic acid and poly­(vinylidene fluoride); however, it is comparable to those of typical commercial piezoelectric ceramics. The crystal structure analysis with electric field shows that the origin of the observed giant electrostriction can be attributed to the shear strain that emerges from the polarity switching of the hydrogen-bonded chains. The antipolar–polar structural transition in antiferroelectrics could be employed for the development of high-performance electrostrictive organic materials.