Relationship between tribology and optics in thin films of mechanically oriented nanocrystals

J Am Chem Soc. 2012 Jul 25;134(29):12245-51. doi: 10.1021/ja304799a. Epub 2012 Jul 13.


Many crystalline dyes, when rubbed unidirectionally with cotton on glass slides, can be organized as thin films of highly aligned nanocrystals. Commonly, the linear birefringence and linear dichroism of these films resemble the optical properties of single crystals, indicating precisely oriented particles. Of 186 colored compounds, 122 showed sharp extinction and 50 were distinctly linearly dichroic. Of the latter 50 compounds, 88% were more optically dense when linearly polarized light was aligned with the rubbing axis. The mechanical properties of crystals that underlie the nonstatistical correlation between tribological processes and the direction of electron oscillations in absorption bands are discussed. The features that give rise to the orientation of dye crystallites naturally extend to colorless molecular crystals.