Small Crystals that Explode Like Popcorn

Small Crystals that Explode Like Popcorn

Chemists have created single crystals of metal coordination complexes that explode violently when exposed to UV light, leaping high into the air. The effect, similar to the bursting of popcorn in a hot pan, results from light-activated polymerisation of molecules within the crystal, followed by an extremely rapid phase transition of the nascent polymer in its attempt to find a lower energy configuration. The phenomenon could be harnessed to create light-driven mechanical actuators, the researchers suggest.

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