Gel network incorporation into single crystals grown by decomplexation method†
Crystallization in gel media has been occasionally found to result in single crystals with gel networks incorporated inside, extending the gel method with a long history for crystallization into a platform to design the internal composite structures of a crystal. The limited number of gel-incorporated crystals has inspired the investigation on how general gel incorporation is. Crystallization in gels through decomplexation has been widely used to grow crystals with extremely low water solubility, while whether the gel networks are incorporated inside these crystals has not been studied. In this work, crystals of AgCl, AgI and CuCl have been grown in both agarose gels and silica gels by decomplexation. The crystallographic structures of the crystals were identified by powder and/or single X-ray diffraction. The internal hybrid structures were studied by examining the residue materials after gentle etching and complete dissolution of the crystals. When grown from agarose gels containing self-assembled fibrous structures, gel networks were incorporated into single crystals of all the three compounds. In sharp contrast, the gel networks were pushed away when the crystals were grown in silica gels. The discrepancy between the crystals grown from agarose gels and those from silica gels is consistent with the effect of gel strength on gel incorporation. This work may help to harvest gel-incorporated crystals.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Supramolecular Gels in Crystal Engineering