Probing hydrogen-bond networks in plastic crystals with terahertz and infrared spectroscopy
A molecular-level understanding of phase changes in hydrogen-bonded solid-state systems is of great importance in fields spanning thermal science to medical therapeutics. Polyols have recently emerged as prime targets for deployment, given their versatility in phase-induced changes, and occupy a deep space in eutectic solvents. Here, we explore the hydrogen-bond network of neopentyl glycol (NPG) with terahertz time-domain spectroscopy, attenuated total reflection spectroscopy in the far- and mid-infrared regions augmented by electronic structure calculations. A picture emerges where vibrational spectroscopy can exquisitely probe a crystalline to amorphous solid-solid phase transition while spectroscopy in the mid-infrared region provides a molecular picture of the phase transition. These methods are then applied to understand the thermal properties and phase changes in NPG upon incorporation of bis(trifluoromethane)-sulfonimide lithium salt, to demonstrate that vibrational spectroscopy can directly probe the disruption of hydrogen-bond networks in plastic crystals.