Crystallization Force—A Density Functional Theory Concept for Revealing Intermolecular Interactions and Molecular Packing in Organic Crystals Journal Articles uri icon

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  • AbstractOrganic molecules are prone to polymorphic formation in the solid state due to the rich diversity of functional groups that results in comparable intermolecular interactions, which can be greatly affected by the selection of solvent and other crystallization conditions. Intermolecular interactions are typically weak forces, such as van der Waals and stronger short‐range ones including hydrogen bonding, that are believed to determine the packing of organic molecules during the crystal‐growth process. A different packing of the same molecules leads to the formation of a new crystal structure. To disclose the underlying causes that drive the molecule to have various packing motifs in the solid state, an electronic concept or function within the framework of conceptual density functional theory has been developed, namely, crystallization force. The concept aims to describe the local change in electronic structure as a result of the self‐assembly process of crystallization and may likely quantify the locality of intermolecular interactions that directs the molecular packing in a crystal. To assess the applicability of the concept, 5‐methyl‐2‐[(2‐nitrophenyl)amino]‐3‐thiophenecarbonitrile, so‐called ROY, which is known to have the largest number of solved polymorphs, has been examined. Electronic calculations were conducted on the seven available crystal structures as well as on the single molecule. The electronic structures were analyzed and crystallization force values were obtained. The results indicate that the crystallization forces are able to reveal intermolecular interactions in the crystals, in particular, the close contacts that are formed between molecules. Strong correlations exist between the total crystallization force and lattice energy of a crystal structure, further suggesting the underlying connection between the crystallization force and molecular packing.


  • Li, Tonglei
  • Ayers, Paul
  • Liu, Shubin
  • Swadley, Matthew J
  • Aubrey‐Medendorp, Clare

publication date

  • January 2, 2009