Structure–property relationships and the mechanisms of multistep transitions in spin crossover materials and frameworks†
Spin crossover frameworks and molecular crystals display fascinating collective behaviours. This includes multi-step transitions with hysteresis and a wide variety of long-range ordered patterns of high-spin and low-spin metal centres. From both practical and fundamental perspectives it is important to understand the mechanisms behind these collective behaviours. We study a simple model of elastic interactions and identify thirty six different spin-state ordered phases. We observe spin-state transitions with between one and eight steps. These include both sharp transitions and crossovers, and both complete and incomplete spin crossover. We demonstrate structure–property relationships that explain these differences. These arise because through-bond interactions are antiferroelastic (favour metal centres with different spin-states); whereas, through-space interactions are typically ferroelastic (favour the same spin-state). In general, rigid materials with longer range elastic interactions lead to transitions with more steps and more diverse spin-state ordering, which explains why both are prominent in frameworks.