Pressure-induced polymorphism in phenol

D R Allan, S J Clark, Alice Dawson, P A McGregor, S Parsons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The high-pressure crystal structure of phenol (C6H5OH), including the positions of the H atoms, has been determined using a combination of single-crystal X-ray diffraction techniques and ab initio density-functional calculations. It is found that at a pressure of 0.16 GPa, which is just sufficient to cause crystallization of a sample held at a temperature just above its ambient-pressure melting point ( 313 K), a previously unobserved monoclinic structure with P2(1) symmetry is formed. The structure is characterized by the formation of hydrogen-bonded molecular chains, and the molecules within each chain adopt a coplanar arrangement so that they are ordered in an alternating 1-1-1 sequence. Although the crystal structure of the ambient-pressure P112(1) phase is also characterized by the formation of molecular chains, the molecules adopt an approximate threefold arrangement. A series of ab initio calculations indicates that the rearrangement of the molecules from helical to coplanar results in an energy difference of only 0.162 eV molecule(-1) (15.6 kJ mole(-1)) at 0.16 GPa. The calculations also indicate that there is a slight increase in the dipole moment of the molecules, but, as the high-pressure phase has longer hydrogen-bond distances, it is found that, on average, the hydrogen bonds in the ambient-pressure phase are stronger.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1018-1024
Number of pages7
JournalActa Crystallographica Section B - Structural Science
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2002


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