These gracefully arching structures are made up of a bunch of flat molecules. Zewei Chang, a postgraduate student at Tianjin University, studies how molecules come together in solution to form crystals like the ones seen in this micrograph, which he made by slowly evaporating a solution of pyrene. In the case of these pyrene molecules, the way they stack on top of one another as they crystallize affects the crystal’s properties. Chang wants to take the flat pyrene molecules and make crystals with new stacking patterns, such as ones where each molecule is slightly twisted relative to the molecule beneath it. He thinks the notable bendability of pyrene crystals will be useful in, for example, flexible optoelectronic devices.
Submitted by Zewei Chang and Yifu Chen
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