Advanced crystallisation methods for small organic molecules
Molecular materials based on small organic molecules often require advanced structural analysis, beyond the capability of spectroscopic techniques, to fully characterise them. In such cases, diffraction methods such as single crystal X-ray diffraction (SCXRD), are one of the most powerful tools available to researchers, providing molecular and structural elucidation at atomic level resolution, including absolute stereochemistry. However SCXRD, and related diffraction methods, are heavily dependent on the availability of suitable, high-quality crystals, thus crystallisation often becomes the major bottleneck in preparing samples. Following a summary of classical methods for the crystallisation of small organic molecules, this review will focus on a number of recently developed advanced methods for crystalline material sample preparation for SCXRD. This review will cover two main areas of modern small organic molecule crystallisation, namely the inclusion of molecules within host complexes (e.g., “crystalline sponge” and tetraaryladamantane based inclusion chaperones) and the use of high-throughput crystallisation, employing “under-oil” approaches (e.g., microbatch under-oil and ENaCt). Representative examples have been included for each technique, together with a discussion of their relative advantages and limitations to aid the reader in selecting the most appropriate technique to overcome a specific analytical challenge.