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Emergence of chirality and structural complexity in single crystals at the molecular and morphological levels

Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) images of the yo-yo-like, single crystals having a multidomain appearance. Each side of the yo-yo resembles a daisy flower. Credit: Weizmann Institute of Science Imagine trying to build a Colosseum-type edifice—including arches, vaults and various protrusions—while abiding by two strict rules: Only one type of brick may be used, and these bricks are required to be placed precisely, one against another, in a symmetrical arrangement. Not even a bit of mismatching is allowed. At best, you would be able to erect a chambered high-rise tower. Nature has similar laws for the construction of single crystals.

The rules for the formation of single, molecular crystals are so strict—they must be sharp-edged, continuous, single-compartment structures—that it is inconceivable to imagine these principles being broken. Until now, that is. Weizmann Institute of Science researchers have managed to create structures that are a complete paradox: single, continuous crystals that have multiple domains, an asymmetric shape and curved lines; they are as complex as one could expect from a “monumental” structure. This unique class of organic materials was recently reported in Nature Communications .Because crystal structure plays a critical role in determining the properties of a material, the Weizmann scientists plan […]

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