How to use X-ray diffraction to elucidate 2D polymerization propagation in single crystals†
Covalent long-range ordered (crystalline) sheets called 2D polymers have recently been synthesized by irradiating single crystals of suitably packed monomers. To have such an action proceed successfully, billions of bond formation processes have to be mastered exclusively in two dimensions within 3D crystals. This raises questions as to how to elucidate the mechanism of these unusual polymerizations as well as their entire strain management. The article will show that single crystal X-ray diffraction based on both Bragg and diffuse scattering are powerful techniques to achieve such goal. The very heart of both techniques will be explained and it will be shown what can be safely concluded with their help and what not. Consequently, the reader will understand why some crystals break during polymerization, while others stay intact. This understanding will then be molded into a few guidelines that should help pave the way for future developments of 2D polymers by those interested in joining the effort with this fascinating and emerging class of 2D materials.