Molecular cannibalism: Sacrificial materials as precursors for hollow and multidomain single crystals

Maria Chiara di Gregorio, Merna Elsousou, Qiang Wen, Linda J.W. Shimon, Vlad Brumfeld, Lothar Houben, Michal Lahav, Milko E. van der Boom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The coexistence of single-crystallinity with a multidomain morphology is a paradoxical phenomenon occurring in biomineralization. Translating such feature to synthetic materials is a highly challenging process in crystal engineering. We demonstrate the formation of metallo-organic single-crystals with a unique appearance: six-connected half-rods forming a hexagonal-like tube. These uniform objects are formed from unstable, monodomain crystals. The monodomain crystals dissolve from the inner regions, while material is anisotropically added to their shell, resulting in hollow, single-crystals. Regardless of the different morphologies and growth mechanism, the crystallographic structures of the mono- and multidomain crystals are nearly identical. The chiral crystals are formed from achiral components, and belong to a rare space group (P622). Sonication of the solvents generating radical species is essential for forming the multidomain single-crystals. This process reduces the concentration of the active metal salt. Our approach offers opportunities to generate a new class of crystals.

Original languageEnglish
Article number957
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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