Piezoelectric Organic Crystals Autonomously Recombine and Selfheal Fracture with Precise Order

04 January 2021, Version 1


Living tissue uses stress-accumulated electrical charge to close wounds, yet to-date this piezoelectric effect has not been realised in self-repairing synthetic materials which are typically soft amorphous materials requiring external stimuli, prolonged physical contact and long healing times (often >24h). Here we overcome many of these challenges using piezoelectric organic crystals, which upon mechanical fracture, instantly recombine without any external direction, autonomously self-healing in milliseconds with remarkable crystallographic precision. Atomic-resolution structural studies reveal that a 3D hydrogen bonding network, with ability to store stress, facilitates generation of stress-induced electrical charges on the fractured crystals, creating an electrostatically-driven precise recombination of the pieces via a diffusionless instant self-healing, as supported by spatially-resolved birefringence experiments. Perfect, instant self-healing creates new opportunities for deployment of molecular crystals in robust miniaturised devices, and may also spur development of new molecular level repair mechanisms in complex biomaterials.


Crystal Engineering
Mechanical Property


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