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The origin of delayed polymorphism in molecular crystals under mechanochemical conditions

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We show that mechanochemically driven polymorphic transformations can require extremely long induction periods, which can be tuned from hours to days by changing ball milling energy. The robust design and interpretation of ball milling experiments must account for this unexpected kinetics that arises from energetic phenomena unique to the solid state. Detailed thermal analysis, combined with DFT simulations, indicates that these marked induction periods are associated with processes of mechanical activation. Correspondingly, we show that the pre-activation of reagents can also lead to marked changes in the length of induction periods. Our findings demonstrate a new dimension for exerting control over polymorphic transformations in organic crystals. We expect mechanical activation to have a much broader implication across organic solid-state mechanochemistry.

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