Organic crystals are of primary importance in pharmaceuticals, functional materials, and biological systems; however, organic crystallization mechanisms are not well-understood. It has been recognized that "nonclassical" organic crystallization from solution involving transient amorphous precursors is ubiquitous. Understanding how these precursors evolve into crystals is a key challenge. Here, we uncover the crystallization mechanisms of two simple aromatic compounds (perylene diimides), employing direct structural imaging by cryogenic electron microscopy. We reveal the continuous evolution of density, morphology, and order during the crystallization of very different amorphous precursors (well-defined aggregates and diffuse dense liquid phase). Crystallization starts from initial densification of the precursors. Subsequent evolution of crystalline order is gradual, involving further densification concurrent with optimization of molecular ordering and morphology. These findings may have implications for the rational design of organic crystals.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Chemical Engineering(all)