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Plastic Transition to Switch Nonlinear Optical Properties Showing the Record High Contrast in a Single-Component Molecular Crystal

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posted on 2015-12-23, 00:00 authored by Zhihua Sun, Tianliang Chen, Xitao Liu, Maochun Hong, Junhua Luo
To switch bulk nonlinear optical (NLO) effects represents an exciting new branch of NLO material science, whereas it remains a great challenge to achieve high contrast for “on/off” of quadratic NLO effects in crystalline materials. Here, we report the supereminent NLO-switching behaviors of a single-component plastic crystal, 2-(hydroxymethyl)-2-nitro-1,3-propanediol (1), which shows a record high contrast of at least ∼150, exceeding all the known crystalline switches. Such a breakthrough is clearly elucidated from the slowing down of highly isotropic molecular motions during plastic-to-rigid transition. The deep understanding of its intrinsic plasticity and superior NLO property allows the construction of a feasible switching mechanism. As a unique class of substances with short-range disorder embedded in long-range ordered crystalline lattice, plastic crystals enable response to external stimuli and fulfill specific photoelectric functions, which open a newly conceptual avenue for the designing of new functional materials.

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