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Supramolecular Bola-Like Ferroelectric: 4-Methoxyanilinium Tetrafluoroborate-18-crown-6

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posted on 17.08.2011, 00:00 by Da-Wei Fu, Wen Zhang, Hong-Ling Cai, Yi Zhang, Jia-Zhen Ge, Ren-Gen Xiong, Songping D. Huang
Molecular motion is one of the structural foundations for the development of functional molecular materials such as artificial motors and molecular ferroelectrics. Herein, we show that pendulum-like motion of the terminal group of a molecule causes a ferroelectric phase transition. Complex 4-methoxyanilinium tetrafluoroborate-18-crown-6 ([C7H10NO(18-crown-6)]+[BF4], 1) shows a second-order ferroelectric phase transition at 127 K, together with an abrupt dielectric anomaly, Debye-type relaxation behavior, and the symmetry breaking confirmed by temperature dependence of second harmonic generation effect. The origin of the polarization is due to the order–disorder transition of the pendulum-like motions of the terminal para-methyl group of the 4-methoxyanilinium guest cation; that is, the freezing of pendulum motion at low temperature forces significant orientational motions of the guest molecules and thus induces the formation of the ferroelectric phase. The supramolecular bola-like ferroelectric is distinct from the precedent ferroelectrics and will open a new avenue for the design of polar functional materials.