Towards the systematic crystallisation of molecular ionic cocrystals: insights from computed crystal form landscapes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Sharmarke Mohamed
  • Ahmad A. Alwan
  • Tomislav Friščić
  • Andrew Morris
  • Mihails Arhangelskis

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • United Arab Emirates University
  • Public Health Agency of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
  • Khalifa University of Science and Technology
  • McGill University


The underlying molecular and crystal properties affecting the crystallisation of ionic cocrystals (ICCs) with the general formula AB+N (A− = anion, B+ = cation and N = neutral acid molecule; 1 : 1 : 1 stoichiometry) are reported for a limited set of known crystal structures determined following the cocrystallisation of either 4-aminopyridine (which forms salts) or 4-dimethylaminopyridine (which forms salts and ICCs) with the same set of monoprotic acids with a single hydroxy or halogen substitution at the ortho or para position. Periodic density functional theory calculations (PBE + D2) on the energetic driving force for ICC crystallisation for a set of known crystal structures with well characterised acid, salt and ICC structures show that all but 1 of the 7 experimental ICC structures surveyed were more stable than the sum of their component salt and acid structures with 4 displaying relative stabilities (ΔEICC) ranging from 2.47–8.02 kJ mol−1. The majority of molecular ICCs that are more stable with respect to their component salt and acid structures display the formation of discrete intermolecular O–Hacid⋯Oanion hydrogen bonds with the D11(2) graph set between the carboxylic acid OH donor and the carboxylate oxygen acceptor of the anion. Computed crystal form landscapes for model 1 : 1 salts derived from acid–base pairs (involving 4-dimethylaminopyridine) known to form molecular ICCs show that on average the most stable predicted polymorphs of the 1 : 1 salts have efficient packing of the ions with packing coefficients in the range 65–80% and this is comparable to the packing coefficients of the most stable predicted polymorphs of 1 : 1 salts (involving 4-aminopyridine) that have no ICCs reported. This suggests that the cocrystallisation of equimolar amounts of the 1 : 1 salt and the acid to form a 1 : 1 : 1 molecular ICC is a complicated phenomenon that cannot be explained on the basis of inefficiencies in the crystal packing of the salt ions.


Original languageEnglish
Number of pages24
JournalFaraday Discussions
Early online date26 Mar 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Mar 2018