A group of researchers from Queensland, Australia, led by Associate Professor Jack Clegg and Professor John McMurtry, have studied the structural mechanism responsible for the elasticity of crystals at the atomic level. This allowed them to create flexible monocrystals that can be tied into a knot if desired.
The crystals grown in width are commensurate with fishing line, and in length are 5 cm. They were formed as a result of the combination of copper and acetylacetonate, as well as six other structurally related compounds containing copper and other metals with high flexibility.
Experiments by the Queensland team have shown that crystals can bend many times and return to their original state without traces of deformation. Fancy flexible crystals can find applications in many industries. In particular, thanks to them, new hybrid materials for aviation and space technology may appear.
In addition, bending crystals changes their optical and magnetic properties, which can become the foundation for new technologies that were previously impossible.