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Structural Properties of Low-Temperature Phase Transitions in the Prototypical Thiourea Inclusion Compound:  Cyclohexane/Thiourea

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posted on 24.01.2008, 00:00 by Zhigang Pan, Arnaud Desmedt, Elizabeth J. MacLean, François Guillaume, Kenneth D. M. Harris
The prototypical thiourea inclusion compound, cyclohexane/thiourea, in which cyclohexane guest molecules are located within tunnels in a hydrogen-bonded thiourea host structure, is known to exist in three phases (denoted I, II, and III). The stable phase at ambient temperature (phase I) undergoes a second-order transition to phase II at ca. 148 K, and phase II undergoes a first-order transition to phase III at ca. 127 K. The structural properties of phases I−III have been determined in the present work from synchrotron X-ray powder diffraction data, employing the Rietveld refinement technique. The structural properties determined for phase I are in agreement with those reported previously from single-crystal X-ray diffraction data. The structures of the two low-temperature phases (phases II and III) have not been reported previously, and we emphasize the advantages of using X-ray powder diffraction techniques in these cases due to the occurrence of crystal twinning on entering these phases. In phase II, the observed distortion of the thiourea tunnel is consistent with an increase of orientational ordering of the guest molecules in comparison with phase I, although a unique determination of the disordered guest substructure could not be established. On entering phase III, however, the Rietveld refinement indicates a further distortion of the thiourea tunnel structure, which is associated with ordering of each guest molecule in a single discrete orientation. Importantly, structural aspects of the guest substructure in this phase (particularly concerning the tilt angle of the C3 axis of the guest molecule relative to the tunnel axis) are in excellent agreement with results on the orientational characteristics of the guest molecules in phase III deduced from a previous single-crystal 2H NMR study.