Investigation of solvatomorphism and its photophysical implications for archetypal trinuclear Au3(1-methylimidazolate)3

Shengyang Guan, David C. Mayer, Christian Jandl, Sebastian J. Weishäupl, Angela Casini, Alexander Pöthig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A new solvatomorph of [Au3(1-Methylimidazolate)3] (Au3(MeIm)3)-the simplest congener of imidazolate-based Au(I) cyclic trinuclear complexes (CTCs)—has been identified and structurally characterized. Single-crystal X-ray diffraction revealed a dichloromethane solvate exhibiting remarkably short intermolecular Au   Au distances (3.2190(7) Å). This goes along with a dimer formation in the solid state, which is not observed in a previously reported solvent-free crystal structure. Hirshfeld analysis, in combination with density functional theory (DFT) calculations, indicates that the dimerization is generally driven by attractive aurophilic interactions, which are commonly associated with the luminescence properties of CTCs. Since Au3(MeIm)3 has previously been reported to be emissive in the solid-state, we conducted a thorough photophysical study combined with phase analysis by means of powder X-ray diffraction (PXRD), to correctly attribute the photophysically active phase of the bulk material. Interestingly, all investigated powder samples accessed via different preparation methods can be assigned to the pristine solvent-free crystal structure, showing no aurophilic interactions. Finally, the observed strong thermochromism of the solid-state material was investigated by means of variable-temperature PXRD, ruling out a significant phase transition being responsible for the drastic change of the emission properties (hypsochromic shift from 710 nm to 510 nm) when lowering the temperature down to 77 K.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4404
Issue number15
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2021


  • Aurophilic interactions
  • Cyclic trinuclear complex
  • Photoluminescence


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