Assembling an alkyl rotor to access abrupt and reversible crystalline deformation of a cobalt(II) complex

Sheng Qun Su, Takashi Kamachi, Zi Shuo Yao, You Gui Huang, Yoshihito Shiota, Kazunari Yoshizawa, Nobuaki Azuma, Yuji Miyazaki, Motohiro Nakano, Goro Maruta, Sadamu Takeda, Soonchul Kang, Shinji Kanegawa, Osamu Sato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Citations (Scopus)


Harnessing molecular motion to reversibly control macroscopic properties, such as shape and size, is a fascinating and challenging subject in materials science. Here we design a crystalline cobalt(II) complex with an n-butyl group on its ligands, which exhibits a reversible crystal deformation at a structural phase transition temperature. In the low-temperature phase, the molecular motion of the n-butyl group freezes. On heating, the n-butyl group rotates ca. 100° around the C-C bond resulting in 6-7% expansion of the crystal size along the molecular packing direction. Importantly, crystal deformation is repeatedly observed without breaking the single-crystal state even though the shape change is considerable. Detailed structural analysis allows us to elucidate the underlying mechanism of this deformation. This work may mark a step towards converting the alkyl rotation to the macroscopic deformation in crystalline solids.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8810
JournalNature communications
Publication statusPublished - Nov 4 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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