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Crystal Melting by Light: X‑ray Crystal Structure Analysis of an Azo Crystal Showing Photoinduced Crystal-Melt Transition

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posted on 25.06.2014, 00:00 authored by Manabu Hoshino, Emi Uchida, Yasuo Norikane, Reiko Azumi, Shunsuke Nozawa, Ayana Tomita, Tokushi Sato, Shin-ichi Adachi, Shin-ya Koshihara
Transcis photoisomerization in an azo compound containing azobenzene chromophores and long alkyl chains leads to a photoinduced crystal-melt transition (PCMT). X-ray structure analysis of this crystal clarifies the characteristic coexistence of the structurally ordered chromophores through their π···π interactions and disordered alkyl chains around room temperature. These structural features reveal that the PCMT starts near the surface of the crystal and propagates into the depth, sacrificing the π···π interactions. A temporal change of the powder X-ray diffraction pattern under light irradiation and a two-component phase diagram allow qualitative analysis of the PCMT and the following reconstructive crystallization of the cis isomer as a function of product accumulation. This is the first structural characterization of a compound showing the PCMT, overcoming the low periodicity that makes X-ray crystal structure analysis difficult.

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