Concomitant polymorphism and the martensitic-like transformation of an organic crystal†
Crystalline polymorphism is a phenomenon that occurs in many molecular solids, resulting in a diverse range of possible bulk structures. Temperature and pressure can often be used to thermodynamically control which crystal form is preferred, and the associated transitions between polymorphic phases are often discontinuous and complete. N-Methyl-4-carboxypyridinium chloride is a solid that undergoes an apparent continuous temperature-dependent phase transition from an orthorhombic to a monoclinic polymorph. However, a hybrid characterization approach using single-crystal X-ray diffraction, terahertz time-domain spectroscopy, and solid-state density functional theory reveals the transformation to be actually a slowly changing ratio of the two discrete polymorphic forms. The potential energy surface of this process can be directly accessed using terahertz radiation, and the data show that a very low barrier (43.3 J mol−1) exists along the polymorph transformation coordinate.